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 two full seasons as GM of the Chargers, Tom Telesco should have been starting to get close to what his vision for the roster looked like.
Chargers departed via free agency
Reggie Walker (LB) - He played for the Chargers for two seasons after four poor seasons with the Cardinals. Over the two seasons, he accumulated 48 tackles and 6 starts, along with 3.5 sacks. He wouldn’t have been expensive, but he wasn’t exactly very good either, with only 98 tackles and 3.5 sacks over 6 years in the league. Grade: B
Chad Rinehart (OG) - The Chargers didn’t want to pay him $4.25 million after a piss poor season. He played one phenomenal season with the Chargers, and they had every reason to bring him back, but he quickly became a huge hindrance to the Chargers. Thankfully, this move was only met with a $1 million dollar dead cap hit. Grade: B — poor contract, but at least TT was smart enough to give himself an out, after only paying him $1.75 million in the first year of the new contract.
Dwight Freeney (DE) - After signing a 2-year, $8.75 million dollar contract, Dwight Freeney rewarded the Chargers with 4 sacks. Their problem is that they utilized him as a starter, despite it being his 12th year in the league. The Cardinals signed him and got 8 sacks out of him (without him starting a game). Now, I don’t know how much the scheme had to do with it, but when you have an older player like Freeney, they’ll be a lot more effective going 100% on 15 plays than 50% on 40 plays. Grade: C+ (it’s not lower because Pagano had no idea how to use him, to begin with)
Eddie Royal (Slot WR) - Eddie Royal signed a 3-year contract after spending 4 years in Denver. His first season was poor (just like Robert Meachem’s), but he was kept due to his less expensive contract. He rewarded the Chargers with 1409 yards and 15 TDs on 109 receptions over the last two years of his deal. I believe he was not re-signed because he may have wanted more money on a 3-year, $15 million dollar deal with the Bears. His statistics have declined, but that will happen when you have Jay Cutler, and not Philip Rivers throwing to you. I would have matched any offer the Bears made, and it stings even more because Stevie Johnson (down below) has disappointed in his replacement role. Grade: C-
Ryan Mathews (HB) - One of the most frustrating players in recent memory, Ryan Mathews was phenomenal... when he was able to stay on the field. In 5 years with the Chargers, he had only one full season and two years where he rushed for more than 1,000 yards. Due to his tantalizing talent, he signed a 3-year, $11 million dollar contract with the Eagles to back up DeMarco Murray (where he outplayed Murray). Since he didn’t re-sign with the Chargers, he has played in 26 games, and rushed for 1200 yards and 14 TDs, with 261 yds and 2 TDs receiving. Melvin Gordon has played in 27 games, and rushed for 1638 yards and 10 TDs, along with 611 yards and 2 TDs receiving. To compare price range, Melvin Gordon has made $4.3 million to Mathews’ $6 million over the last 2 seasons. I personally think Melvin’s upside isn’t as high, but he is a lot more consistent. Grade: B+
Shareece Wright (CB) - He wasn’t a very good corner for the Chargers, and never played a full season. Since then, he has played in 23 games for the Ravens, starting 16. The others, he didn’t start because he’s played poorly. Oh, and in that time, he has created a whopping zero turnovers. The 49ers got zero production out of him before the Ravens and paid him $2.6 million to be cut without seeing a game. Grade: A+
Andrew Gachkar (ILB) - He was a hard worker for the Chargers, but he was pretty buried on the depth chart, especially with the emergence of Denzel Perryman, and the other spot being locked down by Manti Te’o. He signed a two-year deal with the Cowboys for $5.5 million, which the Chargers obviously didn’t want to pay for a primarily special teams player. He’s made 24 tackles over two seasons with the Cowboys. Definitely not worth $5.5 million. Grade: A+
Marcus Gilchrist (SS) - Another of the “Starting DB’s” for the Chargers, Marcus Gilchrist was pretty “meh,” but was able to stay on the field, and was average but never special. He signed a 4-year, $22 million dollar contract with the Jets. I mean, he’s played relatively well for them and has had 137 tackles and 5 picks for them in the last two years. That isn’t $5.5 million per year production, though. Grade: A
King Dunlap (LT) - 4 years, $28 million dollars. He’s given up 7 sacks in that time in 19 games. To compare, Joe Thomas (7/80.5 mil) has given up 4 (in 32 games), Russell Okung (5/53 mil) has given up 8 (in 29 games), Branden Albert (5/47 mil) has given up 7 (in 26 games), and Terron Armstead (5/65 mil) has given up 4 (in 20 games). As far as I can see, the guys that really play well get paid well, being at least $10 million a year. To put it into perspective, King Dunlap is paid 20th most for LTs per year. It’s not going to get a whole lot better without forking out a ton of money. Grade: B-
Brandon Flowers (CB) - After signing a one-year “prove it” contract, and showing what made him one of the elite corners in the league, Brandon Flowers signed a 4-year, $36 million dollar deal. Tom Telesco was smart in a way because this was basically a 2-year deal, worth 14 million dollars (almost fully guaranteed), followed by the 2nd half, worth $22.4 million with only $4 million guaranteed. He’s only played in 17 games in the last two years and has clearly lost a step. The Chargers should cut him to get out from under his horrendous 11 million dollar salary this season. Grade: C (for giving an out after only 2 years in the contract)
Trevor Robinson (C) - After playing in only 3 games in relief situations (with one start), and allowing only half a sack, the Chargers rewarded Robinson with a 2-year, $3.25 million dollar contract. In 13 starts in 2015, he gave up 9 sacks which was horrendous. The Chargers cut him after that season. Grade: F
Ricardo Mathews (DT) - A solid rotational player, Tom Telesco gave him another chance to prove his worth, at 1-year, $1 million. Unfortunately, Ricardo Mathews started 7 games and produced about the same as he had when he started 2 games the previous season. The Chargers and Tom Telesco didn’t want to re-sign him, and he signed a cheap contract with the Steelers, where he had his 3rd worst season in 7 years in the league. Grade: C
Chargers new signings
Jacoby Jones (WR/Returner) - Don’t talk to me about this “fast fool.” Whose idiotic idea was it to sign a 30+-year-old mediocre receiver to be the Chargers main returner? His contract was worth $5.5 million over 2 seasons, and he didn’t even make it through one season, as he was downright terrible. The Steelers picked him up via waivers and he fumbled 3 times for them in 4 games. Grade: F-
Orlando Franklin (OG) - After looking like one of the best guards in football for the Broncos (allowing 8 sacks over 3 seasons), he was pretty downright terrible in year one for the Chargers, only appearing in 10 games. This year, he was better in allowing fewer sacks, but he hasn’t generated holes like Melvin Gordon needs. He’ll probably be given one more year to prove his worth to the team, as his cap hit is still high, and the Chargers have more pressing cuts that need to happen (ahem, DJ Fluker) Grade: C-
Jimmy Wilson (S) - Remember when everyone was thinking he might start for the Chargers? He signed a 2-year, $4.85 million dollar contract, and he only lasted 13 games before he was cut, where he started 6 games. He blew tons of coverages, and was cut before year 2. He was all but benched in the last two games of his Chargers career anyways. Grade: D-
Stevie Johnson (WR) - Philip Rivers really pumped me up for this guy, as his smile on his face while talking about Stevie Johnson would instill confidence in anyone. Only being two seasons removed from three straight seasons of 1,000 plus yards and 6+ TDs, many thought the only thing wrong with him was that he was playing for Buffalo and the 49ers (weak quarterbacks). He signed a 3-year, $10.5 million dollar contract, and the hype train was on. Unfortunately, what looked good in practice, didn’t translate to the field, as he’s only played in 10 games in 2 seasons, receiving for 497 yards and 3 TDs. At 30 years old, and due to make $4.5 million this season (and a dead cap of only $1 million if cut), he’s likely played his last snaps as a Charger. Grade: F
Mitch Unrein (DE) - He played in 2 games for the Chargers, with one whole tackle. Signed for a 2-year, $1.9 million dollar contract, he didn’t see the second year. He may have been a serviceable rotation player as he has shown to be with the Bears, but he played horribly for the Chargers. Grade: F
Patrick Robinson (CB) - Signed to a one-year, “prove it” deal for $2 million. He played well for them appearing in 16 games with 10 starts, with 49 tackles and 1 INT. The key was, he wasn’t beat a whole lot, and looked like the best healthy corner on the roster. Good player for a cheap contract. Grade: A
Final Grade: C
Out of Tom Telesco’s 6 new signings in the free agency period of 2015, two remain with the team (not for long). 2 were released before their first year was up. His re-signed players were expensive and not all that impressive (in hindsight), but he let go who needed to be let go. He took a few medium sized swings in free agency, and none of them played out. He earned the mantra “coupon god” in his first season with the Chargers, and as of 2015, had done nothing to back that up.