What would you say if I told you it took a torn Achilles tendon to save the Chargers from themselves?
Don’t get me wrong, what happened to Jason Verrett is terrible from both a personal and a professional perspective. It sucks and I’m sincere when I say I feel terribly for him. I just didn’t care for how the team was planning on handling his return and how that plan would have effected the playing time of two much more deserving players.
As we know, Jason Verrett was attempting to comeback from the torn ACL that cost him each of the last two seasons. In anticipation of his return, the Chargers were prepared to hand a starting job back to Jason at the expense of two players who performed at a Pro Bowl level in 2017 in Trevor Williams and Desmond King.
The plan was to make Williams, who posted 56 tackles, 13 passes broken up and two interceptions in Verrett’s absence, the primary slot corner. That, of course, meant moving Desmond King (76 tackles, four sacks, five passes broken up, one interception), out of his role as the slot corner. In fact, there was a good chance King would have been moved off the field entirely while he fought for rotational snaps at slot corner, free safety and nickel linebacker in camp.
Not to mention, Trevor Williams is set to become a restricted free agent after the 2018 season. That means the team was prepared to take him off the island he owned throughout 2017 the season before his first shot at a potential payday. How do you think that would have played out when it came time to negotiate a new contract?
Now, with Verrett once again injured, the team won’t have to worry about botching a personnel decision by stealing snaps from two deserving players in the interest of playing favorites with a former first round pick.
Trevor Williams can go back to playing outside, where he belongs. He won’t have any reason to feel angry or slighted because of a move inside, and he can focus on doing his job. And, with Jason Verrett hurt and unlikely to return to the team, he should find himself in an excellent position to avoid a restricted free agent tender and receive a new, long term deal if he plays well in 2018.
As for Des King, he gets to go back to doing what he does best – playing close to the line of scrimmage, attacking the football and making plays. He will probably benefit from the largest and most immediate bump in playing time based on the simple fact that he will go into camp as the primary slot corner with little to no immediate competition. He earned that with his play last year and now the team doesn’t have to worry about the message they were sending him by robbing him of richly deserved playing time.
Verrett’s injury also creates an opportunity for someone else to grab hold of a roster spot.
If we assume the team will carry five corners, with Casey Hayward, Trevor Williams, Des King and Michael Davis all fairly safe bets to fill out the first four slots; the fifth spot is now up for grabs. With camp set to begin on Saturday, Tony Brown, Craig Mager and Brandon Facyson all have a legitimate shot at making the final roster. What looked like an extreme long shot for all three players just a few days ago now suddenly looks much more possible.
This may be the opening undrafted free agent darling Tony Brown needs to make the team. While he isn’t ready to play corner in the NFL, it wouldn’t be difficult for the team to potentially stash him as the fifth corner and use him strictly as a special teams standout, which is where he provides the greatest value, anyway.
While we all feel badly for Jason Verrett on a personal level, his injury provided clarity and created opportunity in the secondary, and the team should be better for it in the long run. They no longer have to worry about alienating Trevor Williams, they won’t have to move Des King around in an effort to manufacture playing time for him, and they might have stumbled upon an opportunity to keep a potential difference maker on special teams on the 53-man roster.
Like I said; it took a torn Achilles tendon to save the Chargers from themselves.