The Chargers have upwards of 20 in-house free agents to sort through and the second most cap space in the NFL heading into the 2022 offseason (~$68 million).
Similar to the Bengals last offseason and the Dolphins in 2020, this is the time for the Bolts to capitalize on this rare opportunity to add notable players in free agency to a team with rare talent at such important positions (quarterback, left tackle, edge rusher).
But first, they must figure out which players to re-sign before venturing out to fill in those remaining holes spread out across the roster. Today, I ranked my top-five in-house free agents that I believe the Chargers need to re-sign heading into the offseason.
Let me know if you’d make any differences and how you’d switch this ranking up in the comments below!
1.) LB Kyzir White
If there was any kind of breakout season among the Chargers’ players this season, it was White’s uber-productive campaign in the middle of Brandon Staley’s defense. The former collegiate safety-turned-linebacker finished his first season under Staley with a career-high 144 tackles which landed him sixth on the franchise’s all-time single-season tackles list.
He also finished tied for second on the team with seven tackles or loss and tied for the team lead with two interceptions, as well. On top of that, he recorded a lone sack and forced a pair of fumbles.
Unlike Gus Bradley’s cover three system, White seemed to come alive in Staley’s cover two-heavy scheme. If the coaching staff wants to keep as much continuity from year one to year two, re-signing White should be the number one priority on their list.
Kyzir White said welcome to the NFL pic.twitter.com/fsPKcDGEaF— Tyler Schoon (@tylerjschoon) November 24, 2021
2.) EDGE Uchenna Nwosu
If you weren’t sure Nwosu deserved another contract with the Chargers prior to Sunday’s game, you most-certainly do after the fact.
In the season finale against the Raiders, Nwosu recorded a single-game career-high four tackles for loss among six total stops and a single sack of Derek Carr. He was EVERYWHERE in the run game and found himself consistently living in Vegas’ backfield.
As an edge player in Staley’s defense, Nwosu has been asked to play a little more in coverage than he was ever asked to in previous seasons. He did a respectable job in that facet this year with his biggest play being a tipped passed he turned into his first career interception against Kansas City in week 15.
He ended his fourth year in the NFL with a career-high 40 tackles and a team-high eight tackles for loss. He also chipped in a pair of forced fumbles and four passes defended.
Now if the Chargers believe Nwosu can continue to be an impactful bookend to Joey Bosa on the edge, that leaves them with one less position they may need to address in this year’s draft and free agency period, which would be huge in a year where Tom Telesco has the second-most cap space in the NFL heading into the offseason.
3.) DT Justin Jones
Despite not making nearly the pass-rushing impact many of us thought he’d provide in the pros, Jones solidified himself this season as a massive contributor to the team’s run defense. By the end of the year, it was painfully evident how important his presence was along the interior. Seriously, it was a night-and-day difference between how well they were able to stop the run when he was, or wasn’t, on the field.
And to be fair, he did record a career-high three sacks in 2021 which is a good step forward, but that doubled his career total of 1.5 through his first three seasons. Progress is progress, nonetheless.
The team has big plans for the defensive front this offseason and Jones has a real shot of being the only holdover along the interior in 2022 if the team does a similar overhaul akin to the offensive line reboot from a year ago.
4.) KR/PR Andre Roberts
Forget about the fumble against the Raiders in the season finale, Roberts’ performance in the weeks leading up to that game was such a massive improvement over anything the Chargers have had at kick/punt returner over the past four to five years. Heck, the guy recorded the first kickoff return for a touchdown by the Chargers since 2012 and averaged over 32.8 yards per return. That type of production would have impossible for anyone else on the current roster.
When you have talented players who make an impact the way he did in such a short period of time, they deserve grace when they inevitably make a rare mistake that — let’s be honest — everyone makes at some point throughout a given season.
If he’ll sign for the low, I would love to see Roberts return for a full season in L.A.
5.) TE Donald Parham
I have the biggest player crush on Parham for several reasons.
1.) He’s a legitimate 6’8 with actual athletic ability. You just can’t teach that.
2.) He played at Stetson University (FL) which plays their football in the Pioneer Football League. That’s the same league I played in when I attended Drake University (IA).
3.) He makes some amazing plays in the limited snaps he’s received throughout the past two seasons.
I’m seriously praying that Parham makes a full recovery to the point where he’s able to rejoin this team. I couldn’t be higher on this guy’s future and if everything comes to a screeching halt because of such a freak accident, that would be devastating. And even if his career must come to an end, I hope the Chargers will do right by him in some way, shape, or form.