The Los Angeles Chargers have already had a busy offseason, headlined by moving to Los Angeles and hiring a new head coach. There is still plenty of work to do as the Chargers look to improve the roster.
Both sides of the ball need improvement. The offensive line needs help and the back end of the defense is exploitable. It may be too early to predict exactly who the Chargers could bring in to improve the team, but it’s time to look at the positions that will be addressed this offseason.
The Chargers offensive line is bad. Pro Football Focus ranked them as the second worst unit in the league.
Aside from Matt Slauson, the offensive line was a train wreck. Prior to 2016, the concern with the offensive line was health. Last season the offensive line was healthy for the most part and still played poorly. Proving that it is time for wholesale changes up front.
Left tackle King Dunlap will be 32-years-old come September. He has two years left on his contract and has a good chance of being released this offseason. Orlando Franklin is also a candidate to be released. Franklin has been awful since signing a 5-year $36.5 million deal in 2015.
Things get interesting along the right side of the line. D.J. Fluker and Joe Barksdale both have a chance of becoming free agents. Fluker was a first-round draft pick in 2013 and he has not lived up to that selection. Fluker has regressed and become a major liability on the inside. He’s only 25 and age is on his side, but depending on the way contract extension negotiations go, he may be cut.
Last but not least is Joe Barksdale. After signing a 4-year deal prior to the 2016 season, Barksdale struggled mightily. He racked up penalty calls against him and was bad in pass protection. Is it too early to give up on Barksdale? Probably. That still doesn’t mean he is going to be in a Bolts uniform come 2017.
Expect this unit to be solved in both the draft and free agency. The Chargers number one priority should be getting the proper protection for Philip Rivers. Oh, and that guy Melvin Gordon could use some holes to run through too.
Chargers fans miss you, Eric Weddle.
Last year, Dwight Lowery was not good. He was late in coverage and was prone to giving up big plays deep down the field. Still, Lowery signed an affordable deal last offseason and the safety unit needs a veteran.
Paired up next to Lowery, was Jahleel Addae, who is currently a free agent. Addae missed a large chunk of the 2016 season but has a solid chance of getting a new contract.
Even with both of last season’s starters set to return, there is still a feeling that San Diego will add a top talent at safety. This is in part because of the addition of new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. Before his disappointing stint with the Jaguars, Bradley was the DC for the Seahawks. This was where Bradley had the pleasure of deploying Earl Thomas in his secondary.
The Chargers don’t have a player anywhere near Thomas’ caliber at safety currently, but could find a franchise player early in the draft with a deep safety class.
This position may seem settled but with Keenan Allen’s injury history, the Chargers could decide to bring in a game changer.
Many of the top NFL draft analysts have Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams being selected by the Chargers with the seventh pick. That seems like a luxury considering the other issues on the roster, but it still remains in the realm of possibilities.
If the Chargers are banking on a healthy Allen, the team could save some money and re-sign Dontrelle Inman or sign a free agent like Kendall Wright or Pierre Garcon to save money. Even drafting a receiver on day two or three of the draft could also be an option.
This entire unit becomes a major need if Melvin Ingram is not re-signed.
If the Chargers decide to let him go, they are left with Kyle Emanuel and Jerry Attaochu to take his place. Emanuel isn’t an effective starter but definitely has earned his spot on this roster. Attaochu isn’t a much better option. He had an awful 2016. He barely played and seems to have fallen to the bottom of the depth chart. After these two guys, the rest of the unit is expendable.
Without Ingram there is plenty of room for the Chargers to bring in another linebacker. It would probably be a pass rush specialist who can play opposite Joey Bosa.