Travis Benjamin: A
I wrote an article the day before the San Diego Chargers signed Benjamin essentially saying that I didn't think they should sign Benjamin. Not because I didn't think he was a great player, but I was worried that he would end up getting overpaid and underperforming.
I was worried that Benjamin would get somewhere north of $8 million per year. Instead, the team locked up one of the best deep threats in the league through his 29th birthday for a maximum of $6 million per year. Now Philip Rivers just has to remember how to throw downfield, since he hasn't really had a speedy deep threat since Vincent Jackson.
Brandon Mebane: B+
I like Mebane a lot. I like his personality, and I like his game. The only reason this isn't an A is that Mebane will be playing in a new defense (3-4, where he'll be a Nose Tackle, as opposed to the 4-3 RDT that he's used to) and he's 31 years old.
All told, Mebane is a little small for the Nose Tackle position. He's the same height as Ryan Carrethers and about 30-40 lbs lighter. I would be thrilled if the team put Mebane at DE opposite Corey Liuget and made Carrethers the starting Nose Tackle, because that's a defensive line that can shut down running games for days, but it sounds as though they want Mebane at the Nose.... (emphasis is mine)
The Chargers continued to make a splash on the first day of free agency when they agreed on a three-year contract with massive nose tackle Brandon Mebane.
Mebane is the same size as Darius Philon. Not sure that equals massive Nose Tackle, but maybe he can start eating more.
Dwight Lowery: B
There's a corresponding move at Safety that will get a much lower grade below, but this is just about Lowery, who I like!
When Lowery isn't asked to do too much, he is a good player. He's basically a deep-zone guy who can play a little bit of man coverage as well. He's not very good against the run, although he's a pretty good blitzer when asked to do it.
In this defense, where Lowery will basically be filling Eric Weddle's shoes, he's fine. He won't stand out but he probably won't lose the team games at Free Safety either.
Joe Barksdale: A
I know this didn't happen yesterday, but I still love this deal. It's good for the player, it's cash-efficient for the team, and it adds some stability to the offensive line.
Antonio Gates: A
Another "Coupon God" contract for Chargers GM Tom Telesco. With Ladarius Green likely to sign with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Chargers absolutely needed Gates back. Somehow, they still got him below market value and on a short-term contract.
Gates probably could've gotten 2-years, $15M on the open market. Hell, someone probably would've been crazy enough to give him 3-years, $20M. Instead, the Chargers got him for 2-years, $11M.
Kellen Clemens: F
Hilariously enough, Chargers.com still has him listed as a free agent. Perhaps they're being hopeful?
There's no reason for Kellen Clemens to be on this team except to waste money and (maybe?) raise morale. Dumb.
Jahleel Addae, Dontrelle Inman, Kenny Wiggins: C
These guys were tendered as restricted free agents. That's fine. They'll be inexpensive and none of them are terrible options as backups.
I hope the team is making plans to upgrade the SS spot, and not relying on Addae to be the starter once again. Jalen Ramsey would, in theory, be an excellent fit to take over the SS spot.