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Which Big Name Free Agent Should the Chargers Be Willing to Pay?

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NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Chargers Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Free agency begins next week. As you’ve seen from the past couple weeks, there will be a lot of big names available. Something tells me this is going to be quite the frenzy. In terms of the Chargers, it’ll be interesting to see who they let go and who they bring in. I imagine they will be aggressive in looking for a defensive tackle. We’ll see. Today let’s stick to the 3 big names that have been in the news lately. Richard Sherman. Tyrann Mathieu. Ndamukong Suh. Here’s how they played last year, per Bleacher Report.

Richard Sherman

12. Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks

Coverage: 20/25

Reaction: 21/25

Recovery: 18/25

Tackling: 10/15

Position Value: 10/10

Overall Grade: 79/100

After a slight decline in 2016 (it was later revealed he had been dealing with a knee injury throughout the year), Richard Sherman had a great start to the 2017 season before tearing his Achilles. He was able to play more press-man coverage this year, looking more fluid and fast in his movements as the defense evolved to be less zone-oriented. It’s questionable whether Sherman will ever be the same again as he turns 30 years old this offseason and recovers from such a massive injury.

A 30-year-old corner coming off an injury is a tough sell. We are talking about Richard Sherman, though. There are intangibles that you can’t account for. One of the smartest corners to play the game. As Ian Wharton said above, he can still play at a high level. For example, Trevor Williams graded as a 70, Casey Hayward an 84, and Desmond King a 62. Counting on Jason Verrett for an entire season is playing with fire. Sign Sherman, bump Trevor, a terrific run defender, to the slot, and Des to safety? Sherman is expected to be released per multiple reports. That means he won’t come at his $10 million a year salary. It’s expected he signs a 1-year deal. Sherman is from LA. Played for Gus Bradley and Brandon Mebane. Is he worth it?

Tyrann Mathieu

8. Tyrann Mathieu, Arizona Cardinals

Coverage: 14/20

Reaction: 20/30

Recovery: 16/25

Tackling: 11/15

Position Value: 8/10

Overall Grade: 69/100

There wasn’t another slot defender who experienced as drastic a second-half improvement as Tyrann Mathieu. The Arizona Cardinals star played all 16 games for the first time in his career, but the first half was filled with inconsistent play a lack of explosiveness. Down the stretch he was in position to challenge receivers much more consistently, and finished the season with the second-most tackles (74) of his career.

—NFL1000 DB Scout, Ian Wharton

Throughout his five-year career, Mathieu has proven highly valuable when healthy at multiple positions in Arizona’s defense—everywhere from outside cornerback to deep safety. But it’s his excellence as a slot defender in the Cardinals’ hybrid coverages that has set him apart. One of the most ferocious tacklers in the game, Mathieu covers a ton of ground in a hurry, allowing defensive coordinator James Bettcher to be highly flexible in his nickel and dime coverages. Mathieu has attained excellent field vision and intelligence over the years; his understanding of the game matches his prodigious athleticism.

—NFL1000 Lead Scout Doug Farrar

This is the type of player you bring in to add leadership and effort. Mathieu plays incredibly hard and holds other players accountable. With Bradley playing as much dime defense that features 6 defensive backs, it’s not exactly going out on a limb to say he’s an upgrade from Adrian Phillips. The injuries will forever be a concern with Mathieu. A proven ball-hawk in a defense that prides itself on turnovers. Not to mention a good tackler in the box. At the right price, Mathieu can be a big help.

Ndamukong Suh

9. Ndamukong Suh, Miami Dolphins

Snap Quickness: 17/25

Pass Rush: 19/25

Run Defense: 18/25

Tackling: 11/15

Position Value: 7/10

Overall Grade: 72/100

Ndamukong Suh has a massive frame with good length, thickness and muscularity at 6’4”, 305 pounds. The eight-year veteran has rare power and the explosiveness to deliver massive jolt at the point of attack. Suh’s a good run defender who shows elite flashes. He’s also capable of snapping blockers’ heads back and controlling and collapsing their frame prior to shedding into adjacent gaps.

The Nebraska product sniffs out screens quickly and is rarely fooled with misdirection. He has long arms, which help him win his opponent’s inside shoulder and walk his foe into the QB’s lap with regularity. Suh has effective arm-over and hump moves to counter. However, he shows inconsistent pad level and effort, particularly against combos, and will get moved down the line of scrimmage easily once he gets pushed laterally. The 30-year-old is a strong wrap-up tackler but periodically coasts in pursuit.

—NFL1000 DT Scout, Brandon Thorn

Suh isn’t quite the pass-rusher he was at his apex in Detroit, where he was just about unblockable when faced with a single offensive lineman. But he’s still one of the best run tackles in the league, and when he puts it together, he can still beat guards with a forceful bull rush to get to the quarterback. He’s lost a millisecond of quickness over the years, but 90 percent of the Suh we once saw is still good enough to play at a Pro Bowl level. The question for him as he heads into his 30s is how willing he’ll be to compensate for any physical decline with refinements in technique.

—NFL1000 Lead Scout, Doug Farrar

Suh, predictably, is on the verge of being released from a monster contract. He still has games where he is unblockable. As you can see above, he coasts. I wonder how much that has to do with playing for a team that isn’t in it. That’s not to make an excuse, but I’ve seen Suh on 3rd downs or short yardage situations. He’s still a monster. Suh has said himself “I’ll play for the Eagles for free.” That kind of tells you his mentality. He wants to win. The way the AFC West is shaping up, the Chargers are set up nicely for next year. Would you take the risk on Suh?

Poll

Who would you rather see the Chargers sign?

This poll is closed

  • 38%
    Ndamukong Suh
    (531 votes)
  • 30%
    Tyrann Mathieu
    (430 votes)
  • 15%
    Richard Sherman
    (213 votes)
  • 15%
    None of the Above
    (223 votes)
1397 votes total Vote Now

Who would you rather have? Vote in the poll and tell us why in the comments.