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Chargers decline Jerry Tillery’s 5th-year option

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Philadelphia Eagles Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

With Monday being the final day for teams to make decisions regarding fifth-year options, the Chargers finally announced that they will not be picking up the option for 2019 first-round pick, Jerry Tillery. However, NFL insider Ian Rapoport reported that Tillery remains “firmly” in the team’s long-term plans.

Statistically, Tillery is coming off his most-productive season in the NFL. In 16 games this past season, including 15 starts, Tillery compiled 51 total tackles, six tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks. He also played a career-high 79 percent of the defense’s snaps on the year.

In three seasons with the Chargers, Tillery has career totals of 98 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, and 9.5 sacks. He’s also forced a pair of fumbles and recovered another. While some of those numbers may look “fine” for a defensive tackle, it’s other aspects of Tillery’s game that have frustrated fans during his time in Los Angeles.

For one, Tillery was the culprit on far too many penalties this past season. The Chargers finished with the third-most penalties in the league, including league highs in roughing the passer (eight) and defensive holding (15). Tillery had five penalties in all, tied for the fourth-most among defensive tackles.

The other knock on Tillery is simply his play on the field. His stats on paper may paint a rosier picture, but those who have paid close attention are aware he’s quite guilty in making the Chargers’ run defense one of the wort units over the past few seasons. Inconsistent pad level, softness at the point of attack, among other shortcomings, have kept him from being the first-round talent the Bolts thought they were getting three years ago.

As of now, if he wants to return to the Bolts in 2023, it’ll be on a much cheaper contract than he was likely hoping for.