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A Look Back Part 2016: Reviewing Each Year of Tom Telesco’s Reign

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Looking back at 2016 free agency... in depth

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers-Head Coach Anthony Lynn Press Conference Kirby Lee-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 three full seasons as GM of the Chargers, Tom Telesco continued his bargain-bin shopping.

Chargers departed via free agency

Donald Butler (ILB) - Costing the Chargers $6.69 million to cut, this was a good move to cut ties before owing him a $12 million dollar option bonus. Once he re-signed with the Chargers, he turned into a scared boy on a field of men and was afraid to tackle. He sorta played for the Dolphins this past season and wasn’t very good. Grade: A

Donald Brown (HB) - In an another attempt to rid the team of another poor contract, Damnit Donald was cut. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Grade: A

Kavell Conner (LB) - Was surprisingly cut after two solid seasons as one of the better special teams players on the Chargers and gave solid depth to the team. In those two years, he picked up 10 starts, and 92 tackles. He wasn’t expensive and wasn’t bad. Why cut him? Grade: D

Chi Chi Ariguzo (LB) - He still has yet to play a regular-season snap. Does it matter? Grade: Incomplete

Ladarius Green (TE) - Drafted to be the eventual replacement of Antonio Gates, Green had about 1,087 yards and 7 TDs over 4 seasons. During that time, he missed 17 games mainly due to concussions. He signed a 4 year, $20 million dollar contract with the Steelers where he played in 6 games, receiving for 304 yards and a TD. For someone with possible irreparable brain trauma, that’s an awful lot of money. Thank you, Tom Telesco, for finding Hunter Henry in the draft instead. Grade: A+

Kendall Reyes (DE) - His signature still resides on one of my Chargers jerseys. Do I regret it? No. Do I regret that the Chiefs and Redskins paid him about $2 million for just one year of mediocrity? No. Good on you, Tom Telesco. Rid your team of terrible draft choices by AJ Smith. Grade: A

Eric Weddle (FS) - I could write an entire article on this guy. Pagano wasn’t using him correctly, and he became a pro bowler again with the Ravens. He obviously still has gas left in his tank, and the Chargers did not even offer him a contract. It would be one thing for Tom Telesco to low-ball an aging safety, but it’s an entirely different thing to let him leave on a manageable 4 years, $26 million dollar contract. I cannot give him enough F-’s for this. Grade: black hole full of F minuses

Patrick Robinson (CB) - One of the better corners for the Chargers, Tom Telesco smartly decided to not pay him and to pay Casey Hayward instead. One was in the pro bowl after leading the league in INT’s, and the other played 6 games for $4 million. Good choice, Telesco. Grade: A

Chargers re-signed

Joe Barksdale (RT) - The team-proclaimed “photobomb king,” was forced to delete his social media accounts after people who call themselves “fans,” terrorized him due to his 10.5 sacks given up this season. You gotta feel bad for the guy, but this contract was just given because he was the only guy to stay healthy, as he had even given up 7 sacks the year prior. 4 years, $22 million dollars. Despite his borderline-terrible play, shame on you, Charger “fans.” He still has a chance to make his way back to grace, as he still would cost more to cut than he costs to play. Grade: D

Antonio Gates (TE) - Yeah, he’s one of the all-time greats. What I saw was an aging TE who took away valuable reps from league leading TD receiving TE, Hunter Henry. 2 years, $11 million was necessary, and he didn’t play terribly, I’m just bitter because Henry could have had an even better rookie season. Grade: B

Kellen Clemens (QB) - 1 year, $1 million is still too much for this guy. Mike Bercovici was probably better as an undrafted rookie free agent, and easily just as good at riding the pine. If Rivers went down, the Chargers would be screwed either way. Grade: D

Dontrelle Inman (WR) - Signed a one-year, $600,000 dollar contract. Responded with 58 receptions for 810 yards and 4 TDs (all career highs). He vastly outplayed this contract and established himself as a solid WR3 for the Chargers. Grade: A+

Kenny Wiggins (OG) - Signed a one-year, $600,000 dollar contract. Appeared in 13 games with 1 start in 2016, and gave up zero sacks. Not bad for such a cheap contract. Grade: A

Damion Square (DT) - Appeared in 11 games, ending the season with 8 tackles, and 2.5 sacks. For someone making $566,000 dollars, that’s great value. Grade: A

Chris Hairston (T) - Chris Hairston played in 15 games, making 5 starts last season. He wasn’t necessarily good, but he didn’t hurt the team a whole lot, giving up only 2 sacks on the season. Making $1.1 million dollars last season, and set to make $1.8 million this season, he’s the solid swing tackle the team needs. Grade: B

Jahleel Addae (SS) - Tom Telesco signed him to a one-year, $2.5 million dollar contract. He only played in half of the games this season, but still had 48 tackles and a pick. He’s reckless and hurts his teammates often, but Telesco had the right idea there. Spotrac projects a 4 year, $18.1 million dollar contract this offseason. Not bad for a former undrafted rookie free agent. Grade: B+

Chargers new signings

Travis Benjamin (WR) - I’m going to try to be fair here, but I was not a fan of the signing when it took place. The guy looks like a strong wind can blow him away. The contract was a 4-year contract, worth $24 million. Tom Telesco guaranteed $13 million, which included the base salaries of 2016 and 2017, and the $5 million signing bonus. That means, if Benjamin disappoints again next season, instead of paying him $7 million, they can cut him and only have a hit of $2.5 million. Either way, Travis Benjamin fumbled away his return duties and was beat out by two undrafted guys for the top two receiver spots (Tyrell Williams and Dontrelle Inman). Travis Benjamin ended the year with 47 receptions for 677 yards and 4 TDs, which isn’t awful, but it’s not $6 million a year value. Grade: D+

Brandon Mebane (DT) - A force in the run game, Brandon Mebane’s contract was a 3 year, $13.5 million dollar contract, front loaded on the first year to give the Chargers space if he didn’t make the transition. He ended up starting 10 games, with 21 tackles, an INT and a sack. Grade: B+

Dwight Lowery (FS) - He’s really not good. He’s really not that terrible either, but he blew too many coverages and made Jahleel Addae look good. Good thing he only made $1.7 million last year, and he started every single game and ended the year with 60 tackles, 1 INT, and one FF. Thankfully, the Chargers can cut him in year 3, when he’s due to make $3 million, and take only a $500,000 cap hit. Grade: C

Casey Hayward (CB) - Went from solid CB in Green Bay to pro-bowler in San Diego. He led the league this season with 7 interceptions and is only making a bit over $5 million a year. He currently has 2 years left on his contract, which started as a 3 year, $15.4 million dollar contract. He played in all 16 games, ended with 58 tackles and the aforementioned picks. This, Tom Telesco, is a slam dunk of a contract. Grade: A+

Final Grade: B

Conclusion - He didn’t give out any gigantic contracts. He gave out quite a few contracts in the $5-6 mil a year range, and they mostly worked out. This grade is mostly buoyed by Casey Hayward’s stellar play, Mebane’s work ethic and leadership, and Dontrelle Inman far out-playing his cheap contract. The jury is still out on Travis Benjamin and Joe Barksdale, but they’ve both had proven success in the league, and I hope they find it again with the Chargers in their new city.