This week, The Athletic updated their top-100 free agent predictions where they took a swing at where they believe each player will sign in 2020. The author, Sheil Kapadia predicted three players to sign with the Chargers while three former players on the team sign somewhere else.
I’m a big fan of predictions and especially this piece because it expands from the normal crop of “top-50” free agents to a collective twice the size. Many forget that teams don’t only sign the top guys at their positions. There are going to be players signed who may not have been that great in their latest season of football but may be of use to another team who thinks they can utilize their talents in a better facet.
So below I dropped players into the two groups of “signed with the Chargers” and “signed elsewhere” to make this easy. Also not that the number next to a players name is where they were ranked in the initial list of the top-100 free agents in the original article.
Players signed by the Chargers
30. Bryan Bulaga (RT): Chargers
“The Chargers need help at both tackle spots, and The Athletic’s Daniel Popper recently pointed out that Los Angeles’ new offensive line coach James Campen came over from Green Bay where he coached Bulaga. The Seahawks are another team that could be in the mix here.”
My take: I love this pairing and I think it’s the most realistic of any potential play-team landing spot. If the Chargers want to make a splash by signing the best offensive tackle in this free agency class, they’d be able to reunite him with his long-time position coach from Green Bay. Make it happen, TT.
41. Hunter Henry (TE): Chargers
“Durability has been an issue — Henry has played 41 games in four seasons — but he will be just 25 at the start of next season. Whether with the franchise tag or a long-term deal, the Chargers decide to keep him.”
My Take: At the time of writing this, the Chargers just used their franchise tag on Henry for the 2020 season. The tag is roughly worth $10.5 million-$10.8 million and would make Henry the highest-paid tight end in the league if he plays on it. I fully expect the team and Henry to agree on a long-term deal before the start of the regular season.
62. Ronald Darby (CB): Chargers
“Darby has good cover skills, but he’s had injury issues, is not a good tackler and does not have great ball skills. Last year he had to settle on a one-year deal, and that could be the case again this offseason. The Chargers can take a flier and see if Darby can give them competent play as a No. 2 corner.”
My take: This is one of those “lesser-than” players I spoke about in the opening paragraphs. Darby has not been that great of a cornerback. But as things stand, the Chargers are still picking between a pair of former undrafted players to fit in at the corner spot opposite Casey Hayward. There’s a chance that the team drafts a corner as early as day two in this year’s draft but signing a veteran to a cheap deal might be the way to go if they believe Michael Davis or Brandon Facyson still need time to develop.
Former Chargers signed elsewhere
4. Philip Rivers (QB): Buccaneers
“The Colts are linked often to Rivers, but I’m going with Tampa. Yes, he was a turnover machine last season, but Rivers played well the previous two years. The Buccaneers have excellent weapons in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, and their defense played well (fifth in efficiency) last season. Bruce Arians decides he’s had enough of Jameis Winston, and Rivers finishes his career in Florida where he recently moved his family.”
My take: I think the Buccaneers would be the second-best fit for Rivers apart from the Indianapolis Colts. Bruce Arians has a knack for getting the most out of aging quarterbacks and Rivers could use a strong voice like Arians to make him shake some of the negatives about his game that he’s developed in his later years.
61. Melvin Gordon (RB): Dolphins
“His holdout last year couldn’t have gone much worse. Gordon’s play improved as the season went on, but he’s averaged under 4.0 YPC in four of five NFL seasons. He’s unlikely to find a lucrative offer, but the Dolphins need a reliable, three-down starting back, and Gordon can give them that.”
My Take: This isn’t a bad fit at all. The Dolphins will be looking to solidify the holes in their roster after releasing and dealing away those who didn’t want to stick around for a rebuild. Gordon could be signed on a cheaper than expected deal and that would give the team a proven talent at a position no team wishes to spend a high draft pick on. The Dolphins will be able to focus on a quarterback and offensive linemen in front of him, as well as edge rushers on the other side of the line.