In completely obvious news, the Chargers love their defensive backs. They also love not spending premium picks on the position, especially seeing how the last two selected on day one and two turned out.
The team has found more success with undrafted free agents over the years than with their draft picks so it’s no surprise that four of their top six cornerbacks on the current depth chart were former UDFAs.
Below, get to know one of the more interesting cornerbacks on the team. A guy who knows what it’s like to play at all levels of professional football, cornerback Jeff Richards.
College: Emporia State
Years with team: 2
“Jeff Richards signed a 2 year, $1,050,000 contract with the Los Angeles Chargers, including an average annual salary of $525,000. In 2019, Richards will earn a base salary of $570,000, while carrying a cap hit of $570,000.” - Spotrac.com
After being promoted to the active roster on November 3rd of last year, Richards went on to record five total stops over the rest of the year.
Richards fits the ideal mold of a Gus Bradley cornerback with his height/length (6-foot-2) and his stout frame (210 pounds). After all, both UDFA CBs from last year, Michael Davis and Brandon Facyson, are both 6-foot-2 with recent UDFA Bradford Lemmons also touching 6-foot-3.
Richards has plenty of playing experience having suited up in three different football leagues. His first career team, the Spokane Shock, were apart of the Arena Football League. He then played for the Ottawa Redblacks of the Canadian Football League before landing his first NFL contract with the Carolina Panthers in 2017.
At this point, Richards essentially just provides some veteran depth and is a guy who has been around the block. He likely is a source of information for the young guys and could remain with the team as an emergency depth corner.
Although Richards been just about everywhere as a football player, he really hasn’t done much. He only played in five games while in the AFL, but he enjoyed his most productive season in any league when he totaled 25 stops, eight pass deflections, and a forced fumble.
While in the CFL, he played in 13 games across two seasons, collecting just 22 total tackles. Since being signed by the Panthers in January of 2017, Richards has been with three teams, the third being the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a short stint in between time with the Chargers.
He obviously hasn’t been able to stick anywhere he has landed and likely won’t find a whiff of success with the Chargers unless injuries start to pile up.
Odds of making the roster/What to expect in 2019
If the Chargers keep six cornerbacks, and I believe they will, Richards has the inside track to be the final one on the depth chart. Besides Casey Hayward, Desmond King, Trevor Williams, and Michael Davis, the team will likely kick the tires on Brandon Facyson for another year, as well. Barring another UDFA separating himself from the pack, Richards is safe.
Fun Fact: While with the Ottawa Redblacks during the 2016 CFL season, Richards got to play a role in the team’s victory in the 104th Grey Cup. In that season, he totaled 18 stops in 10 games played.