The Los Angeles Chargers are on the cusp of contention. They boast an offense led by Philip Rivers and a defense that features a pair of premier pass rushers in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram.
Los Angeles doesn’t have a ton of cap room, though. According to overthecap.com, they have just over $23 million to play with. That money will likely fluctuate, but there isn't a ton of room to fill holes on the roster.
Fans shouldn’t expect a spending spree from the Bolts. General manager Tom Telesco will adopt the “smart-shopper” mentality, trying to recreate the magic of the Casey Hayward and Tre Boston deals in year’s past.
There is a slim chance that Los Angeles breaks the bank for one addition but look for a handful of under-the-radar signings come the free agency period.
Here are 10 targets who should be on the Chargers’ radar:
Tre Boston - Safety (LAC)
Internally, Boston is probably the biggest free agent for the Chargers. Antonio Gates is another big name, but he probably won’t get much interest due to his age. Boston, on the other hand, will have plenty of suitors.
Last season, Boston was paid just $900,000. That number will skyrocket if he is back with L.A. Although he may not be a top-tier talent at free safety, the Bolts currently have nowhere else to turn. They don’t have anyone else on the roster that can play centerfield like Boston did.
In regards to his asking price, the best guess would be to look at fellow Chargers safety Jahleel Addae’s contract. Addae was paid about $5.5 million per year. Boston’s services should cost around the same amount, likely more.
Weston Richburg - Center (NYG)
Arguably the best center on the market, Richburg has been one of the few positives along the New York offensive line.
Los Angeles will have to enter a bidding war with other clubs as Richburg is going to be one of the hottest offensive line commodities. Including the Giants, who have roughly $23 million to play with as well (overthecap.com).
If head coach Anthony Lynn and Telesco are serious about a ground-and-pound style, Richburg will solve a ton of problems up front. He would be a hefty investment, but Richburg might be the final piece to the offensive line puzzle.
Sheldon Richardson - Defensive Tackle (SEA)
After a Pro Bowl season in 2014, Richardson appeared to be a building block for the New York Jets. Sadly, he never turned into a star and his off the field antics, including an NSFW Snapchat, led to his departure.
The Jets sent Richardson to the Seahawks and he saw a minor resurgence. He was a key piece along their defensive line and proved to be a factor up the middle. In a Chargers uniform, Richardson should improve the Chargers 31st ranked run defense.
Only 27-years-old, Richardson has entered his prime. Los Angeles is desperate for help along the interior of the defensive line and Richardson could be the answer. The Chargers rarely take risks on planes with character concerns, but Richardson’s upside may be too appealing to pass up.
Zach Brown - Inside Linebacker (WAS)
For the past two seasons, Brown has been a tackling machine. He racked up a combined 276 tackles and added 6.5 sacks with Buffalo and Washington, respectively.
Aside from Denzel Perryman, the Chargers linebacker group was a mess in 2017. Jatavis Brown took a step back and Korey Toomer failed to improve upon a surprising first season with the Bolts.
Brown who has missed three games in his career due to injury, would be a steady hand next to Perryman, who has had issues with injuries. There are other names to keep an eye on with Brown, Demario Davis and Navarro Bowman are two guys that can play the same role with the Chargers.
Nigel Bradham - Outside Linebacker (PHI)
The Chargers need help at outside linebacker. Gus Bradley was forced to play a lot of dime and nickel packages with Adrian Phillips, which was another reason why team’s had success on the ground.
With Bradham in the fold, the Chargers would no longer have to concede size, for athleticism. Bradham can cover tight ends and has the speed to chase down runs towards the sidelines.
Bradham won’t be a bargain. Like Richburg, he will take a good chunk of the team’s cap space. This may be more of a dream signing, Bradley’s defense.
Antonio Gates - Tight end (LAC)
The future Hall of Famer may have some gas left in the tank. If Gates is willing to take a back seat to Hunter Henry, the Chargers could squeeze some production out of him.
Gates caught 30 passes for 316 yards and added three touchdowns in 2017. The veteran will garner attention in the red zone, and the Bolts need to find a backup for Henry. It wouldn’t surprise anyone if Los Angeles threw Gates a bone due to his legendary status.
Alfred Morris - Running back (DAL)
Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler had some success in 2017. They complemented each other well, but Lynn was not able to create an elite rushing attack in his first season.
Perhaps the addition of a veteran running back to the mix would take some of the load off of Gordon’s shoulders. Morris is a reliable backup who averaged just shy of 5.0 yards per carry last season.
With the way Lynn forced the issue on the ground last year, it was clear the Charges needed another back. Gordon was simply ineffective in some contests, rushing for under 70 yards in six games. If Los Angeles views Ekeler as no more than a pass-catcher, a veteran back like Morris should adjust seamlessly into the backfield.
Aside from Graham Gano, there aren’t any names that will excite Los Angeles fans. Gano missed just one field goal and three extra points on the 2017 season.
Frankly, it would be in the team’s best interest to try out every kicker possible. Last season was a complete and utter disaster.
Telesco should find at least three more options because at the moment the Roberto Aguayo and Nick Novak competition will not be an enjoyable one.
Who else would you like the Chargers to target in free agency?