ESPN’s Mike Sando re-graded every single NFL team’s offseason and gave the San Diego Chargers a very high grade. Sando feels that the Chargers draft and free agent acquisitions were not the reason for the Chargers poor performance in 2016.
This re-grading was in response to the grades that Sando and a number of other ESPN front office analysts gave each team back in May.
Originally, Sando and the other front office analysts gave the Chargers a B-minus grade. They felt that the Chargers didn’t do enough to catch up to the surging Oakland Raiders and the steady Kansas City Chiefs.
Now, Sando’s tone has changed. In his re-grade, the Chargers sat with an impressive A-minus grade.
Below is some of Sando’s reasoning behind his grade:
General manager Tom Telesco went into last offseason hoping to improve the run defense and the pass rush to create more turnovers. He succeeded on all fronts and fared well in other areas, which is reflected in the favorable re-grade. The 2016 season slipped away from the Chargers for other reasons, notably because Philip Rivers and the offense committed a league-high 35 turnovers.
The Chargers looked smart for drafting Joey Bosa third overall against outside expectations. They could have handled the Eric Weddle divorce better, but Dwight Lowery was not a bad replacement. Free-agent cornerback addition Casey Hayward earned Pro Bowl honors after intercepting a league-high seven passes. Another veteran signing, Brandon Mebane, fortified the run defense. And rookie tight end Hunter Henry finished with eight touchdown receptions, offsetting a so-so season from free-agent receiver Travis Benjamin.
Overall, the San Diego Chargers had a good offseason. Adding some very talented players in the draft in Joey Bosa, Hunter Henry and Jatavis Brown. They even fared well in free agency. Adding Pro Bowl cornerback Casey Hayward and center Matt Slauson.
The only problem is, the offseason wasn’t perfect. Handing the Chargers an A-minus for their offseason is a mistake.
First of all, the Chargers went into the offseason with a hole at free safety after botching negotiations with Eric Weddle. They decided to fill it with Dwight Lowery who was a bad replacement despite what Sando said. Far too often was Lowery out of position or late with his help in pass coverage. Safety is still one of the Chargers biggest needs a year later.
Along with the flop of Lowery, was wide receiver Travis Benjamin. When he wasn’t missing games due to injury, Benjamin was the definition of a streaky player. He would catch a long pass in the first drive of the game and never be heard from again. The Chargers needed him to be a reliable deep threat and he wasn’t able to fill that role last season.
On to the biggest detractor of the 2016 “offseason”, the Joey Bosa saga. Although he wasn’t given a contract until well into the regular season, the Chargers should have been able to put pen to paper at rookie minicamp.
Sadly, the Chargers ownership is foolish and caused this team to play a quarter of the season without arguably it’s best defensive weapon (That whole situation still gets me upset).
The entire Bosa contract saga alone makes the Chargers offseason grade drop a full letter.
Personally, I think Sando went a little too easy on the Chargers. A flat B or B-minus grade probably would have been the right call.