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PFF predicts three Chargers signing elsewhere

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Los Angeles Chargers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images

Anthony Treash over at Pro Football Focus published an article on Wednesday predicting the landing spots for the top-50 pending free-agents in the NFL this offseason. Most of the top free agents are unsurprisingly returning to their original teams with a few making the splash move and heading elsewhere. Three Chargers are included in the list with only one new free agent signing with LA.

Here are the Chargers players involved with their ranking, projected contract details, and the explanation of why they believe they will sign with their teams.

4. Philip Rivers - Indianapolis Colts

Projected Contract: 2 years, $29 million per year ($34 million guaranteed)

What he had to say about the landing spot:

“Jacoby Brissett produced just a 59.3 PFF grade in 2019 that ranked 29th of 32 quarterbacks — a mark that was actually worse than his 62.4 PFF grade in 2017 when he had to step in for an injured Andrew Luck. The short-lived Brissett era that featured a few weeks of MVP talk from other national media outlets (you know who you are) is over. There have been rumors about a potential reunion in Indianapolis between Philip Rivers and Frank Reich, who was his quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator in San Diego from 2015-17. For anyone who thinks this is a bad idea, it’s really not. Brissett was a poor deep passer, and while Rivers has taken a step back in this category, the overall accuracy between the two is night and day. Looking at passes that were beyond the line of scrimmage, Brissett ranked second to last in uncatchable pass rate while Rivers ranked in the top 10.”

I made my opinion on this pairing public last week when I wrote that the Colts were the perfect fit for Rivers. Multiple former Chargers coaches, similar playbook, and one of the bets offensive lines in the NFL to protect the immobile veteran.

14. Marcus Mariota - Los Angeles Chargers

Projected Contract: N/A

What he had to say about the landing spot:

“The once second overall pick’s time with the Titans has come to an end with Tannehill lighting up the Music City. Marcus Mariota likely won’t be looked at as a long-term situation, but rather a bridge quarterback or back-up to a bridge quarterback who could create a small competition — kind of like a situation the Los Angeles Chargers are in. Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn worked closely with Tyrod Taylor in Buffalo during his career seasons and brought him to Los Angeles this past season to be Philip Rivers’ backup. Mariota can be used in the same manner Lynn used Taylor in Buffalo (designed carries, play-action passes, etc.). Mariota’s two most successful seasons came in 2017 and 2018 when he produced high rushing grades for a quarterback at 79.6 and 83.0, respectively.”

One of the first times I’ve seen the “Mariota to the Chargers” idea written down and published. Up to this point, it’s been just one of a plethora of options for the Chargers to find a quarterback in this free agency class. Mariota does offer the skill-set that Anthony Lynn prefers in a signal-caller so it wouldn’t be the most surprising signing. However, I think it’s pretty redundant to sign Mariota when the team still has Tyrod. This would also only make sense if the team did not draft a QB in the first round. There isn’t enough room on this team for two veterans and a first-round rookie.

Hunter Henry - New England Patriots

Projected Contract: 1 year, $9.5 million (fully guaranteed)

What he had to say about the landing spot:

“The first domino of getting TB12 back to New England might just be bringing in one of the league’s most underrated tight ends, Hunter Henry. In his first two seasons in the NFL back in 2016 and 2017, Henry produced a two-year receiving grade that trailed only Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce. After missing 2018 and Weeks 2 through 5 of 2019 due to injury, Henry came and finished the remainder of the year ranking 13th in receiving grade. He isn’t Gronk, but he can line up inline, in the slot or out wide and dominate his opponent better than most tight ends.”

Over. My. Dead. Body.

Henry is one of he most-beloved players on the entire team. The team is already letting Philip Rivers go. There is absolutely no way they will allow Henry to leave unless they’ve officially decided to blow the entire thing up.

He’s one of the best and most complete tight ends in the entire league. Most NFL teams make due with a guy who can catch well but has shortcomings as a run blocker. Henry gets it done in all aspects. The deal will get done with LA or this entire fan base will riot.

Melvin Gordon - Detroit Lions

Projected Contract: 4 years, $7 million per year ($15 million guaranteed)

What he had to say about the landing spot:

Melvin Gordon III killed his value by holding out for a new contract and won’t fetch many bones on the open market because of it. He posted a career-high 89.1 rushing grade in 2018 and averaged 2.1 yards before contact. In 2019, his rushing grade dipped down to 71.7 and his average yards before contact fell to 1.3, which led to a far lower rate of explosive runs generated. Someone will end up paying him, though, and Detroit seems to be a prime candidate to do that. They had a top-10 run-blocking unit but failed to surpass the 25th percentile in team rushing grade as they cycled through multiple backs all season long.”

Like we all expected, Melvin Gordon is likely getting nowhere near the amount of money he was demanding during his holdout in 2019. Gordon wanted upwards of 12-13 million and may be lucky to get a little more than half of that on the open market. However, I don’t think anyone truly saw how fast the running back market would crash in the span of three years.

Todd Gurley, David Johnson, Le’Veon Bell, and Devonta Freeman were all guilty of underwhelming following the signing of their massive contracts, with Freeman likely being the first to get cut of the group.

The crazy thing about Gordon’s situation is that he had ONE good year before asking for that type of money. He failed to reach 4.0 yards per carry in either of his first three seasons and failed once again in 2019. He may have scored a lot of touchdowns but those numbers are skewed by his insane amount of carries inside the five-yard line during the 2016 and ‘17 seasons.

The Lions have always used a committee approach out of the backfield and that hasn’t changed a whole lot with Matt Patricia at the helm. Kerryon Johnson fantasy owners will be uber upset about this one.