The Chargers have uncharacteristically made a lot of impactful moves this offseason and I currently wonder if they’ll make anymore prior to the season.
The fan base would kill for a veteran left tackle, a la Jason Peters or Kelvin Beachum, but what this team has done so far is immense and can’t be understated.
Across all the right decisions made the past few months, here are the four I believe to be the best.
Moving on from Brandon Mebane and Thomas Davis
This move hit differently. For a number of years, the Chargers have stayed loyal to veteran players out of respect for their time with the team. Sometimes, it’s been to the benefit of the team while other times it’s kept the team from reaching their potential.
The veteran presence from Mebane and Davis were both valuable. But their advanced ages had caught up to them before they stepped on the field in 2019. While I think they can both still play in the NFL, they were not what this team needed going into a pivotal year for the coaches and front office members.
Choosing to move on from both helped set the stage for the Chargers to have one of their most-successful offseasons in some time. Including the trade of Russell Okung to the Panthers, the Bolts turned the 32-year-old tackle and two players above 35 into three veterans heading into their age-30 seasons plus a young guard who has been to five Pro Bowls.
I’d say the Chargers did the right thing here.
Re-vamping the right side of the offensive line
Like I said just before, the Chargers turned a veteran tackle that missed half of last season and had a murky long-term prognosis stemming from a pulmonary embolism into one of the best young players at his position in Trai Turner.
ICYMI: #KeepPounding RG Trai Turner (@trai_turner) is still out for blood. One of my favorites to watch play. Plays pissed off. pic.twitter.com/k5d903ZoRa— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) October 19, 2016
Although this team is now hurting for a left tackle, Turner pairing with Bryan Bulaga completely locks down one half of the line. That’s much better than having at least one hole on either end. If the Chargers can get some good play from the left guard spot, whether that’s Dan Feeney or Forrest Lamp, then this line may surprise if given the opportunity. Add in the team’s offensive scheme change and we all may be in for a surprise come September.
Signing Chris Harris
The Chargers are ever-so unfortunately in the same division as the reigning Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs and since Patrick Mahomes is still in the adolescence of his NFL career, it means their success isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
That means the Chargers either need to zig with them or zag in the other direction. Something, anything, to close the gap between the two teams. In a move directly correlating to this argument, the Bolts signed veteran cornerback Chris Harris Jr. to help tip the scales a little closer to them. Harris isn’t a supreme athlete that will help take away the threat of Tyreek Hill, but he will certainly play a role in disrupting other playmakers and be another factor to worry about for Mahomes when facing this team.
Drafting Joe Reed to address the return game
It wasn’t one of the most-pressing needs, but the Chargers certainly seemed to need some more help at wide receiver following a 2019 campaign that was 99% Keenan Allen and Mike Williams in terms of receiver production. The Chargers also needed some stability in the return game after Desmond King became a bit “fumbly” towards the end of the year.
Enter former Virginia wideout Joe Reed who could potentially kill two birds with one stone. Reed possesses 4.47 speed and was arguably the best kick returner in the country last season.
We need to talk more about WR Joe Reed - Virginia— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) March 10, 2020
6’0 224lbs Senior
21 reps 225
Slot WR w/ RB Body
Confident Hands in Traffic
Someone is going to make him a star in the right offense! Day 3 stud! #2020NFLDraft @UVAFootball pic.twitter.com/VaUKsFY6Gy
In 2019 alone, Reed averaged a career-best 33.2 yards per kick return and was the only player to return at least 20 kicks and have an average over 31.0. He also returned five kicks for touchdown over the final three years of his career, including a pair this past year.
He did not return punts at UVA, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him compete for that job, either. After averaging almost 14 yards per punt return in 2018, King saw his average plummet to 5.6 yards, even with a long of 68 on the season. If King can’t get right, Reed might have a little more on his plate in 2020.