There's no doubt that the San Diego Chargers are attempting to go from 4-12 into the playoffs in just one offseason, and they may actually have the pieces to do it if they get lucky. However, there are some very important holes to fill at the starter-level and the immediate depth-level at several positions.
I actually like what the Chargers have at the WR position. With Keenan Allen, Stevie Johnson, and Antonio Gates on the field, Philip Rivers has three legitimate receiving options. Add in Danny Woodhead on certain plays, and now he has four.
Contrary to what some people think, I don't think the team needs to use a high draft pick or a big free-agent signing to replace Malcom Floyd. What I would be looking for is something more in the range of a Stevie Johnson or Joe Barksdale-level of signing. Someone who is a fringe-starter, won't cost an arm and a leg, but might be a great fit in San Diego.
With that in mind, let's go shopping for a new Chargers WR in free agency:
If the Chargers did just want to sign someone to take Malcom Floyd's spot, and keep the WR group the same other than that, here are the guys they'd want to target:
- Marvin Jones
- Jermaine Kearse
- Travis Benjamin
The Bengals are going to (probably) have to choose between signing Mohammed Sanu and Marvin Jones. I happen to think they'll go after Sanu, and I think Marvin Jones would be an excellent replacement for Floyd.
Jermaine Kearse is a 'very good' WR. He's not great. He'll probably never be great. However, it's hard to find a guy that's 26 years old with the type of postseason experience that Kearse has. Seattle may not be ready to give him up, though.
The Browns are working on signing Travis Benjamin to a long-term contract and they should. If they can't, for whatever reason, he'll be the #2 receiver on the free agent market. Probably a little outside of San Diego's price range, but it's worth asking.
The Reclamation Projects
Because I felt like Stevie Johnson and Eddie Royal have worked out so well for Tom Telesco and Mike McCoy, I think this is the route they'll go.
- Rod Streater
- Percy Harvin
- Anquan Boldin
- Darrius Heyward-Bey
In 2012 and 2013, Streater was finding ways to put up good numbers for an Oakland Raiders team that didn't really have much else. Since then, he struggled with a foot injury and struggled to get on the same page with the team's new coaching staff (Jack Del Rio). This has "Stevie Johnson Pt. 2" written all over it.
Percy Harvin is, when healthy and on the field, still one of the most dangerous players in the entire league. He'll be (once again) looking to rehab his image and prove that he can play at this level, which means a team with a good QB and an offensive wizard calling the plays could probably get him for a song.
Boldin is not anywhere near as young as the other players listed. That being said, I think he's my favorite non-Chargers player in the history of the NFL, and the guy is still dynamite when he's on the field. There are no signs at all that he couldn't be an incredible asset as San Diego's slot WR, and his jump-ball skills would help fill a void left by Floyd.
Heyward-Bey is kind of the anti-Boldin. He's still under-30. He's got tons of speed. However, he has poor hands and his jump-ball skills are horrendous. He could fit on a team that mostly needs him to stretch the defense deep and not actually contribute by catching the ball, which would be the Chargers, but he'd have to take an incredibly cheap deal and beat out Dontrelle Inman in camp for the spot.
If I were Tom Telesco....
The first calls I would make would be to the agents of Marvin Jones and Anquan Boldin to find out pricing. Whichever lands closest to their market value get a contract offer.
By looking at some comps, I think these estimates make sense:
Marvin Jones Market Value: $8 million per year
Anquan Boldin Market Value: $4 million per year