The Los Angeles Chargers have all but ensured that they are done adding players to their tight-end room. The team announced on Wednesday that they re-signed veteran tight end Jeff Cumberland to a one-year deal.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed at the time this article was published.
This transaction gives the Chargers six tight ends as the roster sits now, as Cumberland will rejoin familiar faces like Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry, while also reuniting with Sean McGrath, Asante Cleveland and Jake McGee — McGee is the only tight end of the group to not be activated at some point during the 2016 season.
Cumberland, 29, spent six years with the New York Jets before signing with the Bolts during the 2016 offseason. The eight-year veteran tore his Achilles during the preseason shortly after signing with the club, missing all of the regular season.
Though both Gates and Henry remain an impressive two-headed monster as the team’s starters, Cumberland provides a steady option as a reserve at the position. The next regular-season reception Cumberland snags with the Chargers will be his first, but the vet has hauled in 86 passes for 1,119 yards and 10 touchdowns over his career.
The best piece of advice I can give a sports fan is this: cheer for the name on the front of the jersey, not the name on the back.
No matter how wonderful a player is on or off the field, someday either the team or the player will make the difficult decision to go a different direction. The team remains, but the players go through the never ending revolving doors known as free agency and retirement. Remember the aforementioned advise when you look at the following list of fan favorites and impact players who are on the last year of their contracts with the Chargers. Here is the list of the players who may leave at seasons end. The departure of some will leave a hole in the team. The departure of others will leave a hole in fans hearts. So as I crank up The Clash in the background, let’s take a look at who should stay and who should go, as well as what they are making for the 2016 season.
Melvin Ingram (OLB) $7.751 million: Staying: Although Ingram has had to deal with injuries and has under achieved in a statistical way, the future of Ingram seems bright. The addition of Joey Bosa has made this pair of pass-rushers quite a handful for offensive lines. The sack totals are not as impressive as their AFC West rivals, but the fact that the Chargers lead the league in interceptions is a sure sign that these guys are putting pressure on quarterbacks and forcing errant throws. For a defensive front seven to be effective in today’s NFL, there must be two dominant pass rushers and a strong Nose Tackle. Ingram, Bosa and Mebane fit the bill for now. Ingram will be pursued by other teams, but expect the Chargers to overpay a little to keep their former first round draft pick around for the next three to four years.
Danny Woodhead (RB) $5.5 million: Going: I want to be clear about something here. Danny Woodhead is a wonderful player who can be a spark-plug for an offense, and a true leader. But along with his greatness is a serious problem. Since joining the Chargers, Woodhead has only played in 37 of the 64 games he was eligible to participate in. He has had two full seasons and two cut seriously short by injury, including the 2016 campaign. Not only does Woodhead have a hard time staying healthy, he is 31 years old. Not many running backs maintain their effectiveness for long after age 30. I’m sorry to say, the Chargers will move on from Woodhead. He will either sign somewhere as a free agent for the 2017 season, or hang up the cleats. Of course, there is the possibility that the Chargers would try to sign him at a discounted price on the chance that he will stay healthy. Unfortunately, he will most likely find a better offer somewhere else.
Mantai Te’o (MLB) $5.172 million: Going: Te’o is another player who has been plagued by injuries during his time in San Diego. By seasons end, he will have played in just 38 of a possible 64 games, over his four season tenure with the Bolts. He has been improving every year, and the improvement of the defensive line has helped him scrape down the line and get to ball carriers. But, it hasn’t helped his foot-speed, or ability to cover backs in the flat. Look for opposing quarterbacks to pick on Te’o on third and long. The fact is, Te’o will go down in Chargers history as a borderline bust. Nice enough guy, just not a great football player.
Jahleel Addae (SS) $2.553 million: Going: Chargers fans seem to have a great deal of respect and admiration for SS Jahleel Addae. Why? Because he is a hitter! Fans love players who come in and lay some hat on opposing teams. Addae certainly does just that. He has been a Charger for four years and has quite the reputation for having no fear. The problem is that all those hits have really taken a toll on Addae’s body. In fact, he has had several injuries, including concussions. Having only played 43 of his possible 54 games so far as a Charger, there must be concern that he will spend more and more time on the injured list. He is fairly inexpensive, but you do not want to pay anyone to ride out injuries. I believe that if Addae fails to get through the remaining five games of the 2016 schedule without incident, the Chargers will have no choice but to let him go.
Branden Oliver (RB) $1.53 million: Staying: Normally I would have said that a player who really hasn’t done very much, and has missed an entire season to injury, would not be returning. In Oliver’s case, I think the Chargers may take one more chance. He is the epitome of a fan favorite. Bolt fans just love watching Oliver run/return the ball and bang into those large defenders. Yes, Oliver plays larger than his 5’8″, 208 lb frame. He is such a fan favorite, some fans wanted Melvin Gordon either cut, or dropped to second string, so that Oliver could get his chance. The fact of the matter is that despite a few impressive games, Oliver does not have the stats to explain the love he receives. That being said, the Bolts may just bring him back because he will be cheap and the fans love him.
Korey Toomer (OLB) $600,000: Staying: It could be a little premature to add Toomer to this list, but he has been an impact player since joining the team in week four. With his playing time increasing, Toomer has racked up 33 tackles in the last three weeks! He is an aggressive player who likes to hit. The Seahawks and the Raiders are going to regret letting this guy go. Look for Toomer to get another two the three years added to his already very affordable contract.
Dontrelle Inman (WR) $600,000: Staying: Without a whole lot of playing time, Inman has managed to have some big games. He is a sure-handed receiver that was plucked from the Canadian Football League to fill in for injured receivers. Although much of the success of the young Chargers receivers can be credited to Philip Rivers, there is no denying that Inman has the ability to get open and catch the ball. He just may be part of a talented youth movement at wide receiver in San Diego.
There are many more players to make decisions on at the end of this season. Very few are notable. None are tremendous impact players or former high draft picks. Even though these names seem less important, some of them will return because they are affordable and they add much needed depth. The following is a list of players who will most likely be brought back to fill various roles: Mike Windt (LS), Tenny Palepoi (NT), Sean McGrath (TE), Damion Square (NT), and Isaiah Burse (WR/KR), Kenny Wiggens (G).
Finally, the list of potential free agents who are either doomed to be shown the door, or will fight hard and get back on the team: Sean Lissemore (NT), Tourek Williams (OLB), Trevor Williams (CB), Asante Cleveland (TE), Adrian Phillips (FS), Kellen Clemens (QB), Javontee Herndon (WR), Codero Law (OLB), Jeff Cumberland (TE), Dexter McCluster (RB/KR), Ronnie Hillman (RB), Jeremy Butler (WR), Geremy Davis (WR), Tyreek Burwell (T), Chris Landrum (OLB). Some of these guys have a real shot at making the team next year, they just will not be high priorities for Chargers GM Tom Telesco.
So, what do you think? Which of these guys will be sporting lightning bolts next season? Leave your comments below.
On Monday another crushing blow to the Chargers 2016 campaign occurred when it was announced that Danny Woodhead would be lost for the season. Compounded with the loss of Keenan Allen last week, a huge void has been created in this offense.
Enter Dexter McCluster who the Chargers wasted no time finding as a solid replacement for Danny. Formerly with the Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs, he is a capable and dangerous weapon who could be the best in-season pickup the Chargers have had in a long time.
Dare I say this – McCluster may be a better weapon for Rivers then Woodhead was. That’s only if McCluster has the same speed and shiftiness he had in KC/Tenn. The best part of this signing is Dexter knows Whisenhunt’s offense since he played for him in Tennessee. McCluster should easily be a situational player who has the versatility to make an impact in the running game, passing game and a return specialist. The Bolts haven’t had this kinda flexibility since the days of Darren Sproles.
To some, there might be some concern as to why he was on the free agent market. In Tennessee, he was third on the depth chart behind DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry and thus he was released on September 2nd. A tryout with the New York Jets and 18 days later, the Chargers timing seems fortuitous as they inked him right away.
With his adaptability to fit into any role, it is anyone’s guess as to how McCoy will utilize the 28-year-old. Clearly he has huge shoes to fill in replacing a player like Woodhead, but perhaps with the right coaching staff and supporting cast, his career and usefulness could get a major jump. So far in his career, since being drafted by Kansas City out of Mississippi, he has not been “the guy” to build a team around. However, he appears to be a self-aware player who believes he can make an impact in any role he is given. All he needs is open space and the rock in order to showcase his speed and elusiveness.
If you’re not familiar with Dexter, here’s some highlights of his years with KC and his last year with the Titans. Enjoy!
Thanks for the read
The San Diego Chargers have begun making roster moves and training camp isn’t set to begin until Saturday. On Friday, the Chargers waived center Trevor Robinson. Part of the carousel at the center position, Robinson had 14 starts at center over the last two seasons.
Also included in the recent mix of Chargers centers since 2013 are Chris Watt, Nick Hardwick, Doug Legursky and Rich Ohrnberger.
The free agent signing of former-Chicago Bears offensive lineman Matt Slauson is expected to stop the revolving door at center while 2016 NFL Draft third-round pick Max Tuerk is groomed to be the center of the future. Slauson is an eight-year veteran who will be looked to provide leadership and serve as a mentor to Tuerk and the young offensive linemen.
The release of Robinson frees $2.3-million in cap space.
The free roster spot was filled with the signing of offensive lineman Marcel Jones. Listed at 6’7″-inches tall and 320 pounds, Jones was a seventh-round pick of the New Orleans Saints in the 2012 NFL Draft. He is listed as a guard/tackle. Now entering his fourth season as a pro, Jones has been limited to playing on the practice squad for the Saints and Baltimore Ravens.
Training camp is heating up and the first pass hasn’t been thrown yet. What will the Chargers do next? Are you excited for the 2016 edition of the San Diego Chargers so far? Post your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One
In less than 24 hours the 2016 San Diego Chargers will take the field for training camp. Bringing you continual coverage of the names in the program we don’t know, today, I focus my player spotlight on tight end prospect Matt Weiser.
Weiser signed with San Diego as an undrafted free agent the day after the 2016 NFL Draft. He played for the Buffalo Bulls of the Mid-American Conference (MAC). Listed at 6’5″, 241-pounds, Weiser is the ideal size preferred for a San Diego Chargers tight end. He comes in on the heels of a breakout senior year in which he posted a school-record for catches and receiving yards by a tight end. He was also a Coaches’ selection to the All-MAC Conference First Team in 2015.
Weiser lit up the MAC with 63 catches for 625 yards and three touchdowns in 2015. For his career, he logged 92 catches for 1,080 yards and eight touchdowns. Weiser concluded the 2015 NCAA season with the fourth-highest receiving grade among tight ends.
At the Buffalo Pro Day, Weiser ran the 40-yard dash in 4.80-seconds, posted 18 repetitions on the 225-pound bench press, a 30-inch vertical jump and broad jumped nine feet, six inches. Watching the video below, it’s easy to see what the Chargers’ war room saw in the young prospect. He has performed well against big name opponents and was versatile enough to play both sides of the ball.
The competition at tight end will be fierce in training camp. Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry are already slotted in as the top-two tight ends on the depth chart. After that, there is a logjam for the third tight end slot. Also in the mix with Weiser are veterans Asante Cleveland, Jeff Cumberland, Sean McGrath and fellow undrafted free agent rookie Tim Semisch.
Not everyone will make the cut. One more name can be expected to make the 53-man roster and a couple others will be moved to the practice squad. A couple others will play in a different uniform. One thing for certain, the race to be the heir apparent to the Hall-of-Fame bound Gates is on and it will be one of the most intriguing position battles to watch as training camp is set to open Saturday.
Weiser will be catching passes wearing number 46. Follow him on Twitter: @mweiser89.
Good luck, Mr. Weiser.
The Greg One
The countdown to San Diego Chargers training camp 2016 now stands at four days. The eyes will be trained to look for the faces we know. There will be many more faces we don’t know which will require a look into the program to see who’s making head-turning plays on the field. In an effort to provide as many advance primers as possible, today, I turn my player spotlight on Carlos Wray.
Wray signed with San Diego as an undrafted free agent immediately after the 2016 NFL Draft. The 6’1″, 287-pounder was the anchor of the Duke Blue Devils’ defense as their defensive tackle. Versatile, Wray was moved all over the field starting out as a defensive lineman, then to guard in his second year on the team. He had the most success his final two seasons in Blue Devils’ blue when he was moved to defensive tackle. In those two seasons he logged 86 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and two passes defensed.
At the Duke Pro Day, Wray ran the 40-yard dash in 4.85 seconds; impressive for a man his size. He posted 26 repetitions in the 225-pound bench press, broad jumped nine feet and showed a 28.5-inch vertical leap. NFL scouts love his wide body, high motor and fundamentally sound skill set, even though he’s only been playing defensive tackle for two seasons. After watching the video below, it’s obvious he was born to play defensive tackle.
Wray was the unquestioned leader of the Blue Devils’ locker room and those leadership attributes will translate well in the NFL. The line forms behind Brandon Mebane when it comes to nose tackles for the San Diego Chargers. The mix at DT currently consists of Corey Liuget, Sean Lissemore, Ryan Carrethers, Damion Square, Tenny Palepoi and Wray.
There is opportunity to take a slot on the depth chart for Wray. If he can bring the same intensity and passion he played with at Duke to Chargers Park, he has a great chance of staying on the roster. As a native North Carolinian and ACC homer, I will definitely be pulling for Wray to make the team.
What do you think? Do you like what you see? Post your thoughts in the comments below.
Follow Carlos on Twitter: @The1st_Montana
Good luck, Mr. Wray.
The Greg One
There are countless past (and some present) NFL stars still floating in the abyss known as free agency. Some are available because they have outlived their usefulness. Some make too much money for their team to afford to keep them. Some are the last to know their days are over and they hold press conferences while doing shirtless sit-ups in their driveway.
One recent addition to the free agent whirlpool shouldn’t still be there.
Former Detroit Lions middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch is still in search of a new team. The Lions cut Tulloch on July 5th and almost three weeks later, he hasn’t visited another team. According to the Detroit Free Press, Tulloch had offseason arthroscopic ankle surgery and didn’t pass a physical until the day he was released.
Media reports out of Detroit and different NFL sites speculate the Lions didn’t bring Tulloch back amid concerns of his age, declining lateral quickness and inability to play in coverage.
This is also coming from a team that recently fired most of their front office and has a brand new General Manager calling the shots. One could question the decisions coming out of the front office if they didn’t consider trying to get something for him before the draft if they knew he wasn’t part of the future in Detroit.
There are too many reasons why San Diego should sign this man.
Veteran leadership: Tulloch is 5’11”, 245-pounds and turned 31 on January 1st. A ten-year veteran of the NFL, Tulloch played the first five years of his career in Tennessee before signing on with the Lions. He would be an outstanding mentor to the budding young linebacker corps in San Diego while showing them how it’s done on the field. (i.e. Dwight Freeney).
Durability: The man is beyond durable for his position. Outside of his 2014 season where he suffered a torn ACL in game three, Tulloch has not missed a single NFL game.
Productivity: Tulloch is a tackling machine. Last season, he led Detroit in tackles with 107 combined tackles (74 solo). In six of the last seven seasons, Tulloch has recorded over 100 combined tackles. In his career to date he has 942 tackles, 14.5 sacks, 27 passes defensed and five interceptions.
By comparison, no member of the current Chargers’ roster has had a 100-tackle season. The last ones to do it were Eric Weddle, Takeo Spikes and Stephen Cooper.
Fit: Tulloch would move into a rotation that at the moment lists Manti Te’o, Denzel Perryman, Joshua Perry and Nick Dzubnar as the current middle linebackers. Tulloch would form a great two-down, run-stuffing linebacker. He would form an excellent tandem with the Bolts’ free agent acquisition, defensive tackle Brandon Mebane.
There’s only one logical reason this addition hasn’t happened yet. Money.
Tulloch was in the final year of a five-year, 25.5-million deal he signed in 2012. The base for Tulloch for 2016 was to be 5.5-million. The Lions paid him a 500,000 roster bonus in March. Paying him in the new league year allows them only take a 1.3-million cap hit for releasing him. The Lions free themselves of that contract and Tulloch is officially a free agent.
Any team could sign him for the veterans’ minimum. of course, he’ll want more than that but if they wanted, the Chargers could have him in lightning bolts before training camp begins on the 30th. There’s nothing wrong with competition and bringing in Tulloch would push Te’o and Dzubnar to step up their game or be replaced.
Defense wins championships. This signing would make the defense even more formidable and advance the development of the Chargers’ young nucleus even more. What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One
In my ongoing attempt to bring you expanded coverage of the San Diego Chargers 2016 training camp roster, I cherry-pick another candidate vying for a spot on the 53-man roster. Today, we’ll take a look at a position that has been long on talent and short on stability.
Cornerback Trevor Williams signed with the Chargers as an undrafted free agent immediately after the draft. He is a four-year product out of Penn State. Standing 5-foot-11, 191-pounds, Williams looks to crack a crowded field of contenders. To his advantage, cornerback is a position in need of quality depth as injuries have wreaked havoc on the starters in recent seasons.
Interestingly, Williams came to Penn State as a wide receiver. In his sophomore year, Williams switched to cornerback, where he would play the final three seasons of his collegiate career. In two of those three seasons at corner, he was an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection. Last season he posted 33 tackles, four passes defensed, three tackles for loss and one interception.
At the Penn State Pro Day, Williams ran the 40-yard dash in an impressive 4.44 seconds and had a 35.5-inch vertical jump. Considered a quiet leader by his teammates and coaches, he has the size, speed and intangibles needed to make it at the pro level. His coach spoke glowingly of him after hearing of his signing with San Diego.
“This is an outstanding opportunity for Trevor,” Penn State coach James Franklin said in a release to the media. “Trevor was a mainstay on our defense for three seasons. His speed, length and intelligence will give him a chance to continue his career. He earned his degree in just three and a half years while leading our defense with a quiet confidence.”
Like many of the other undrafted free agents, Williams is high on potential, playing to live out his dream of making an NFL roster. He has impressive size, the speed you look for in a cornerback, wide receiver-skilled hands and as you can see in the video above, he seeks contact and plays well against the run. Call it surname bias if you like, but I like his chances of making the team as a backup cornerback and special teams ace.
Good luck, Mr. Williams.
The Greg One
In two short weeks, the San Diego Chargers will kick off their 2016 training camp. Ninety men will compete for 53 spots on the active roster while another ten will be assigned to the practice squad.
In our effort to familiarize the casual Chargers fan to names other than the ones we hear every day during the season, we spotlight the unheralded men who push the starters to be better every day, thus making the team better as a whole.
James Ross is a 6-foot-1, 232-pound inside linebacker from the University of Michigan. Ross was a four-year letterman for the Wolverines and was an All-Big Ten and All-America Bowl selection as a freshman in 2012. After his standout freshman season, he followed it up with an even more impressive sophomore campaign where he more than doubled his tackles (from 36 to 84), sacks (from .5 to 1.5) and tackles for loss (from 2.5 to 5.5).
In his four seasons, Ross accumulated 188 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, two forced fumbles, two passes defensed and a fumble recovery. Despite his impressive statistics, a questionable decision by the Michigan coaching staff may have derailed his chances of having significantly greater statistics and possibly ruined his opportunity to be selected during the draft.
The staff moved Ross from inside linebacker to strong-side linebacker in his junior season coincided with a precipitous drop in his numbers across the board. Instead of chasing down ball carriers, his job became one of directing the ball carrier into the middle of the defensive line. Ross would log fewer tackles (67) in his final two seasons at Michigan than he had in his sophomore season alone(84).
Prior to the 2016 draft, Ross turned in a 40-yard dash time of 4.7 seconds and 22 repetitions on the 225-pound bench press.
Nearly one month after the draft, Ross signed on with the Chargers as an undrafted free agent. The Indianapolis Colts, Baltimore Ravens, Oakland Raiders and Detroit Lions were all interested in bringing him to camp. He faces an uphill climb to make the Chargers’ roster, as he is one of six rookie linebackers trying to make the team. Linebacker is one of the few positions where the Bolts have an overabundance of talent.
Working to his advantage is his versatility. At his Pro Day, he also ran drills as a fullback where his ability to effectively use his hands and power translated well. In high school, Ross played tight end on offense; so he’s no stranger to catching the ball. Being able to move back to his natural position of inside linebacker, where he can play more instinctively, will also help him turn heads once camp begins.
May the best 53 men win.
Follow James on Twitter: @jross_iii
Good luck, Mr. Ross.
The Greg One
Today, Boltblitz continues to spotlight more of the names on the 90-man roster unfamiliar to the casual San Diego Chargers fan. Kenneth Farrow is a 5’10”, 219-pound running back out of the University of Houston. He was signed after the 2016 NFL Draft as an undrafted free agent and we’ll see him on the field competing for a roster spot when camp opens in two short weeks.
Farrow only missed one game in his four seasons at Houston. Each passing season his star continued to rise. Each of his first three seasons his carries, attempts, yards, yards per game and touchdowns increased. There was a slight dip in his totals during his senior season but that can also be attributed to the fact he played in one less game. In his career at Houston, Farrow averaged five yards or more per carry each season and had a run of 40-yards or more each season.
All tolled, Farrow logged 560 carries for 2,980 yards and 34 touchdowns. He was also a good hand catching the ball out of the backfield as he hauled in 74 passes for 560 yards and three touchdowns. Farrow showed he is a locker room and field leader as in each of his last three seasons he was voted a team captain.
At the UH Pro Day, Farrow posted a 40-yard dash time of 4.59 seconds, a vertical jump of 38-inches and a broad jump of 10 feet, 2 inches. He also showed impressive strength by doing 23 repetitions of the 225-pound bench press. His vertical and cone drill times would have ranked third among running backs at the NFL Combine.
Take a look at this impressive highlight reel from his junior year in which he ran for over 1,000 yards and 14 touchdowns.
The San Diego Chargers could use the backfield depth with Melvin Gordon coming off microfracture surgery in January. Farrow looks to be an excellent blend of size and speed with above-average field vision and the ability to make tacklers miss as well as break tackles. At Houston, Farrow showed he is an every down back.
If something happens to Gordon or the knee is slow to get back to 100%, Danny Woodhead is not an every down running back. Branden Oliver would be the next man up to assume that role. With one impressive training camp and preseason Farrow could install himself into that mix. There is a spot to be claimed. Farrow should have ample opportunity to take advantage.
Follow Kenneth on Twitter: @F_A_R_R_O_W_
Good luck Mr. Farrow.
The Greg One