Let’s talk about Chargers free agent, Jahleel Addae and why the Chargers should move on from him this offseason.
Dangerous Play / Deer In the Headlights
Kyle Posey wrote this fine article about a quintet of young Chargers players back in 2014. One of those players was Jahleel Addae. Now, what areas did Kyle insist Addae had to improve in?
Addae can really improve in two areas. In the run game, when Addae is the "force" player in the box, he needs to do a better job of wrapping up and securing the tackle instead of launching himself and leaving his feet. As a deep safety, specifically when Addae has half of the field, he could do a better job of "finding work" or getting more depth. I noticed there were times when he didn't have a threat and was caught in no man's land.
So, how’s that improvement on wrapping up and securing the tackle instead of launching headfirst and leaving his feet going?
Well that’s just one instance, and it’s not even specifically concerning his run def-...
Yeah but at least he’s missing with these launching hits and not injuring-...
(Geez, it’s almost like he has something against the Chiefs. RIP Vine.)
Okay, okay. At the very least, it’s not like he’s developing a reputation that results in borderline hits being called against him that, I don’t know, could literally cost the team a game.
Oh, wait. That happened, in 2015.
I would say to even the most pro-Addae advocate that even if this is a slight selection of Addae’s tendency for launching himself at opposing players (which has resulted in technically positive outcomes in the past, too), the fact is that it mostly concerns instances of said tendency that occurred in the past year (his 8 most recent games).
Though he is a 4th year NFL vet trusted to impart advice to incoming rookies, Addae clearly cannot, will not, or is not being taught to avoid having such a dangerous playing style. Could this be a vestige of the previous defensive coaching staff or something innate with regard to the way a player who has embraced the nickname of being “The Hitman” (or “Predator” depending on the day of the week) feels as though he must play? I’m not so sure I want to find out.
“But Lee,” you may protest, “Even if Addae might headhunt every now and then, surely his versatility in coverage more than makes up for it!” Because, yes, the team has deployed Addae pretty much all over the field (more on that in a minute).
So, how’s Addae as a deep safety? Well, what once was this -
Is now, well...
Yeah. Let’s just say there are still plays where he’s lost like a deer in the headlights. And while it’s arguably a strength (PFF, in contrast to 2015, was very high on Addae as a run defender this season), this extends to his run defense as well:
I’m not sure what in the world Addae was trying to accomplish there but... Alright. Let’s move on!
Health / Availability
Now, while I have done my best to highlight some of the negative symptoms of Addae’s game, I may not have made a compelling enough argument in the eyes of many of you. I understand that given Tom Telesco’s history of dedicating few resources toward the safety position, it’s not the most popular idea to let a young, relatively cheap player walk at a position that, arguably, the team will not invest the kind of resources (say, the 7th overall pick) to significantly upgrade at.
Furthermore, I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that Addae’s would-be replacement is on this roster. Hell no. But to conclude that Addae’s replacement couldn’t possibly be out there is equally ridiculous.
So instead, I’ll point to that tried and true argument: Jahleel Addae’s health track record makes the idea of giving him a new contract untenable.
Addae hasn’t played in 16 games since he was a rookie. Though his 2015 injury was essentially a fluke ankle injury, Addae’s litany of injuries during his professional career include damage to his collarbone, clavicle and concussion(s).
It would be one thing if Jahleel Addae was a reasonably physical safety with a penchant for hard, legal hits more akin to Kam Chancellor. It would be another if Addae could stay healthy despite his shortcomings. It would be another thing if Addae possessed the kind of closing down speed that would make up for his other weaknesses.
Oh yeah, his speed.
Not great. Not godawful, but not great.
Jahleel Addae is a perfectly cromulent football player except one or two significant reoccurring flaws and a tendency to get hurt. He might revel in the questionable reputation he has earned, but by and large he has cultivated an acceptable image (one which the team presents). He is not Manti Te’o.
However, the drawbacks to keeping Addae are evident. Those mistakes, those tendencies, continue to repeat themselves year after year. The fact that the team is married to Dwight Lowery’s contract for at least another season makes the prospect of fielding an exceedingly below-average backfield pair nigh unacceptable.
Plus, there’s the opportunity cost of being unable to add a new piece to our defense at the safety position to possibly put it over the top (and give Gus Bradley no excuses). It’s clear what the team is getting with Addae, what his ceiling is and how his desperate versatility masks a lack of expertise in any particularly important tenant of being a starting safety in the NFL.
Finally, with Melvin Ingram’s impending free agency and a whole host of other positions and players in dire need of upgrade that could/would impact the team’s ability to function at a high level, I’d argue that retaining a talent like Addae’s isn’t necessarily a high priority.
Thus, the tragedy of Jahleel Addae: All the heart in the world, but clearly a dude who cannot be relied upon to play defensive football effectively at a consistently high enough (healthy) level above replacement to warrant a new contract.