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Tom Telesco’s team-building philosophy shows inconsistent history over 10-year span

Can you call it a philosophy is you’re rarely ever living by it?

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Chargers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

For years now, general manager Tom Telesco has often trumpeted his team-building philosophy as “Draft, Develop, Re-sign.”

He wants to draft their guys, give them the needed training and coaching to develop into their best selves, and then re-sign them to (hopefully) team-friendly deals when the time comes.

But with 10 years of draft history behind him, has the team truly stuck to their motto? The answer is actually no, they have not.

Pro Football Focus’ Arjun Menon went back through the years and rounded up every player Telesco has drafted that isn’t currently still on their rookie deal with the Chargers. He then split up the 44 players that met that criteria into three groups: Those given a second contract, those that did not receive a second contract, and those who were cut or traded while on their rookie contract.

Respectively, those groups were filled with five, 19, and 20 players.

So again, only FIVE draft picks have so far signed a second contract with the Chargers during Telesco’s 10 years. That small list includes Keenan Allen (third round), Denzel Perryman (second), Joey Bosa (first), Mike Williams (first), and Derwin James (first).

For the full list of players listed in each group, check out Arjun’s tweet below.

The initial reason for Arjun to make this spreadsheet was to show how unlikely it is that the team will re-sign Drue Tranquill to a second contract. Similar to Kyzir White’s situation a year ago, history shows that the Chargers likely won’t pay up for a breakout player after just one noteworthy season.

If this is the case, the Chargers could potentially head into training camp with just Kenneth Murray, Nick Niemann, and Amen Ogbongbemiga as their most-experienced linebackers, barring any free agent signings and/or draft picks of course.

At the end of the day, Telesco and the Chargers must do what’s best for the team’s future at any given time. I’m not going to fault him for anything like that. But Telesco was preaching this philosophy as recently as the 2021 offseason and at that point he had yet to give second contracts to both Williams and James. So until last offseason, he was still at THREE!

If anything, I’m putting this all out there to simply shine a light on the lack of consistency between Telesco’s action and words. At the same time, I somehow landed on some pretty decent evidence showing that Telesco hasn’t been nearly as good at building a team through the draft as some would like to believe he’s been.

It’s easy to point at Justin Herbert and Rashawn Slater in recent years and say “See! He did a good thing!” but that’s cherry-picking through a resume that includes four first-round picks and five second-round picks that did not receive a second contract. With the Chargers likely not handing another deal to Nasir Adderley, you can probably go ahead and add another second-rounder to the lengthy list.

In all, that would mean the Chargers have passed on second contracts for six of the team’s seven second-round draft picks outside of Asante Samuel Jr. (2021). Heck, if you consider Kenneth Murray to be an expensive “second” as well, then the list just continue to grow.