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A Look Back Part 2014: Reviewing Each Year of Tom Telesco’s Reign

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Looking back at 2014 free agency... in depth

NFL: Combine Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

In anticipation for the upcoming frenzy that is Free Agency in the NFL, I thought it would be a good time to check out Tom Telesco’s history as General Manager of the San Diego Los Angeles Chargers. After one full season as GM of the Chargers, he went into the 2014 offseason armed with a better knowledge of the roster and had a clear vision for what he wanted to accomplish.

Chargers departed via free agency:

Derek Cox (CB) - If you look back at my last article, Cox signed a 4 year, $20 million dollar contract in the 2013 offseason. His progression throughout the year went from starter to bench player even in garbage time. Tom Telesco cut Cox and continued to drag the Chargers further into dead cap hell. Grade: F-

Le’Ron McClain (FB) - #sweater. What was that even about? He came from the Chiefs where he played pretty well, and still played well for the Chargers, but was completely under-utilized. On a team where he played very few snaps per game, it was hard to justify his $2.5 million dollar salary. Grade B+

Johnny Patrick (CB) - One of the team’s better corners in 2013, Tom Telesco decided not to keep him for the final year of his contract, which was worth $645k. His replacement in the Nickel spot was to be Steve Williams, a 2013 draft pick, who isn’t even on the team anymore. For someone who didn’t play terribly, and wasn’t even remotely expensive, this was puzzling. Grade: D

Charlie Whitehurst (QB) - Clipboard Jesus ended his Chargers career with 8 yards rushing on 8 attempts (with a TD), and never threw a pass for the team in the regular season. Backing up one of the most durable quarterbacks in the league, there was no reason to have an expensive veteran riding pine over a younger quarterback to mold. Grade: A

Cam Thomas (NT) - After being drafted in 2010, Cam Thomas never made a huge impact outside of his 4 sack 2011 season. The Chargers didn’t re-sign him, and he instead signed with the Steelers, where he started 10 games over 2 seasons. His contract was 2 years, $4 million with the possibility of extra incentives. He didn’t play incredibly well on that contract and signed with the Rams for $760,000 last offseason. Grade: B+

Steve Schilling (OG) - He spent time on the practice squad and the active roster, and was active for about 18 games over 3 seasons. He signed with the Seahawks and retired after a year with them. Grade: A

Lavelle Hawkins (WR) - After 5 seasons with the Titans, where he received for 771 yards and 1 TD on 71 receptions, he signed with the Chargers. He only made about $546,765 over his year with the Chargers, which was either the league minimum or close to it. He was not welcomed back after appearing in 4 games with no catches. He was signed and cut by the Buccaneers recently. Grade: A

Chargers Re-signed

Donald Butler (MLB) - After playing well on his rookie contract, Tom Telesco and Donald Butler agreed on a 7 year, $48 million dollar contract with $28 million guaranteed. He played okay during the first year of that deal but drastically fell off in production in the 2nd year, recording only 43 tackles and half a sack in 16 games. Due to the emergence of Denzel Perryman, this was a no-brainer. He ended up costing the Chargers about $6.69 million in dead space. Not saying that Tom Telesco should have known better because he was signing one of the key players on the team. No one knew that Donald Butler would become a soft football player afraid to take hits after cashing in. Grade: F

Darrell Stuckey (S) - A four-time Chargers special team captain, he’s made his money primarily on special teams. He is still with the team. Grade: A

Chad Rinehart (OG) - He re-signed with the Chargers for a 2 year, $6 million dollar contract. He was cut exactly one year later after going from one of the league’s best guards to one of the worst. Grade: D

Reggie Walker (ILB) - A 2 year, 1.78 million dollar contract was signed by the solid linebacker, and former special teams captain. He started 6 games, and appeared in 27 over two seasons with the Chargers, totaling 48 tackles and 3.5 sacks. Not bad. Grade: B+

Richard Marshall (CB) - A terrible corner for the Chargers, he didn’t even make it through his 2-year, $1.4 million dollar contract, despite the Chargers having injury woes with Jason Verrett and Brandon Flowers. He was that bad. Grade: F

Seyi Ajirotutu (WR) - One of the most popular no-name guys for the Chargers, you may remember his clutch, two TD performance against the Chiefs, including a 26-yard game-winning TD. A playmaker on special teams, and a solid contributor at WR, this contract was justified. It was a one-year, $800,000 dollar contract. Grade: A

Rich Ohrnberger (OG) - Started at Center for the Chargers when Nick Hardwick went down with injury and played okay. He signed a one-year contract and started 7 games at Center in 2014. He wasn’t very good, but he also wasn’t very expensive. Grade B-

Chargers New Signings:

Donald Brown (HB) - Damn it, Donald. He signed a 3 year, $10.5 million dollar contract and rewarded the Chargers with two terrible years, with 450 yards rushing on 144 carries, for about a 3.2 average, and 1 TD. He didn’t make it to his 3rd season. Grade: F-

David Johnson (TE) - A failed experiment as an FB/TE hybrid, he signed a 2-year contract worth $1.75 million dollars, where he started 6 games over two years and caught two receptions for 8 yards. He wasn’t a very good TE nor FB and is back with the Steelers. Grade: F

Kavell Conner (ILB) - After being drafted in the 7th round of the 2010 NFL draft by the Indianapolis Colts, Kavell Conner played four years and signed with the Chargers on a 3 year, almost $3 million dollar contract. He was one of the better special teams players on the Chargers and gave solid depth to the team before he was surprisingly cut after two years. In those two years, he picked up 10 starts, and 92 tackles. This grade is for the contract: Grade B+

Kellen Clemens (QB) - Signed for a 2 year, $3 million dollar contract. At the time, he was probably one of the cheapest backups (outside of a rookie) in the league, who had started 9 games for the Rams the year previous year, while compiling a positive TD to INT ratio. He hasn’t been used much, and thankfully so. He looks terrible in preseason. I’d prefer the Chargers drafted someone to mold. Grade: C+

Brandon Ghee (CB) - Ghee was a 3rd round pick in 2010 for the Bengals and never started a game in his 4 years there. He signed a 2-year contract for an untold amount of money and ended up playing only one year at $300k. He didn’t play a snap for the Chargers and was cut before the regular season started. Grade: F-

Final Grade: F+

Conclusion

In his second offseason as Charger’s general manager, Tom Telesco made few good moves in free agency. The re-signing of Donald Butler could have happened to anyone, as he played well during his first contract, but only just to earn a second contract. None of his new additions stuck with the team outside of Kellen Clemens, who is pretty awful, even as a backup quarterback. Of the names on the list, only two remain with the team. Kellen Clemens and Darrell Stuckey. Donald Brown and Donald Butler were two huge failures, and no one on this list was good enough to make up for those.