Coming into the 2014 NFL season, the Chargers had some significant talent on the team. Future Hall of Famer tight end Antonio Gates, no.1 wide receiver Keenan Allen, and even running back Ryan Mathews were some that were to make big strides this season. Unfortunately, it didn’t pan out like most expected which left some areas with a void. Yet somehow, there was still one player who stepped in and produced great numbers, but remained under the radar. The unsung hero of the 2014 season for the San Diego Chargers is Eddie Royal.
The Chargers picked up Royal back in 2012 via free agency who previously was drafted by the Denver Broncos. He was signed to a 3-year contract worth $13.5 million, $6 million of which was guaranteed. He was set back his first year due to injury and personal matters, yet was determined to prove his worth. This season alone, Royal accumulated 62 receptions, 778 receiving yards, and 7 touchdowns. Not to mention, Royal made some catches in clutch situations to give the Chargers their much-needed wins. Do you remember who caught the game winning touchdown with only 38 seconds left in regulation against the Baltimore Ravens, leaving the Chargers to become the only west coast team to defeat them in Baltimore? It was Royal, the slot receiver that seems to always go unnoticed.
This season, Royal had his best year yet with the Chargers. With injuries to Danny Woodhead, Ryan Mathews, and a late injury to Keenan Allen, Royal was just the guy to fill the void. He averaged 12.5 yards per reception and had a long of 47 yards. Although his punt return stats weren’t stellar, he still had 100 in return yards with a long of 58 yards.
Royal is also the type of player that will help the Chargers in any way he can. This last offseason, Royal restructured his contract and took a pay cut in order to create cap space for free agency. The details were not released, but he took the cut from the $4.5 million salary he was set to make. Chargers general manager, Tom Telesco, inherited a team with limited cap space, but Royal again delivered to help in any way he could. It was blatant that Royal was committed to remain a Charger.
If there was a post-season award given for the Chargers unsung player of the year, Eddie Royal would be the recipient. He continuously comes through in clutch situations and delivers for the team. He has even become the player that Philip Rivers leans on to convert a much-needed third and long. I believe he has a great chance to extend his tenure in San Diego. Looking back at the 2014 season, Royal led the Chargers in a much undisclosed manner.