Little did Chargers fans know heading into the 2012 NFL Draft, it would be the last one in San Diego for both head coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith.
To say that fans were a bit perturbed with some of the player moves made by Smith during his tenure here is just polite.
We all recall the 2009 firing of Marty Schottenheimer after the best season the Chargers had posted in 30 years; letting players such as Darren Sproles, Michael Turner, and Vincent Jackson leave San Diego, only to succeed with new teams – the issue there being that viable replacements for those positions never came to be; and finally the Drew Brees’ situation.
Oh, and let’s not forget the 2004 draft which gave us quarterback Philip Rivers in that trade with the New York Giants! So far as Turner is concerned, he came close many times but just couldn’t get the team to the penultimate game.
But, enough about those days! Here is a look at the men who comprised the results of Smith and Turner’s final Chargers draft.
Melvin Ingram – OLB University of South Carolina 6’2″, 246 pounds
Ingram was 18th selection taken in the first round. Playing under Coach Steve Spurrier, Ingram was considered one of the top pass rushers entering draft day.
His rookie year saw him post 27 solo tackles, 14 assists, one sack and one forced fumble, participating in his only 16 game season. Since then, Ingram missed multiple games in the 2013 (ACL) and 2014 (hip) seasons while injured.
Upon returning to the lineup in those injury-shortened periods (2013-14), he produced a combined 25 solo tackles with 12 assists, logged five sacks and three forced fumbles.
This past offseason, he trimmed 20 pounds off his weight because “…I felt quick but I kept getting injured. The lighter you are, the less stress it is on your body, the less stress it is on your knees, your hips, your joints or your ankles, your toes — everything.”
Through two preseason contests, the former Gamecock has shown us that the lighter weight has benefited him because he is flying around, making tackles and pressuring the quarterback. He looks to be back to his rookie form, though obviously time will tell. Having had his fourth-year option extended this past April, high hopes abound that No. 54 will remain healthy, thereby helping lead the Bolts defensive attack into a group of thumpers. Grade: C
Kendall Reyes – DE University of Connecticut 6’4″, 300 pounds
Reyes was chosen in the second round at selection 49. A former three-sport athlete in high school (football, basketball, track and field), he was the highest-drafted lineman in the history of UConn.
In his rookie season with the Bolts, Reyes led his teammates with 19 quarterback pressures and 15 QB hits, nine tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks – the most by a Chargers rookie in 26 years. ESPN.com gave him All-Rookie honors for his performance.
Pegged to start opposite of Corey Liuget in 2013, Reyes collected five sacks to go with his 34 tackles.
He has started all 48 games since being drafted, totaling 94 tackles and 11.5 sacks. Those look like good numbers, however, his play has dropped off in comparison to his stellar debut.
In the final year of his rookie contract, Reyes arrived at camp in better shape. He has flashed some of that rookie moxie in both preseason games, yet the question lingers: will he be given an extension when 2015 is done, or will he become a free agent? Grade: C-
Brandon Taylor – Safety LSU 5’11”, 205 pounds
Selected in the third round, Taylor was considered an NFL-caliber safety who could become a starter early on at the next level. His physicality and refusal to back down against his opponents was something that the Chargers secondary needed.
He debuted in December that year and played four games before tearing his ACL against the New York Jets, ironically his best game, as he was credited with half a sack and three tackles.
Taylor spent time on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list until August of 2013, but never saw the field again. He was eventually waived in June of 2014 and is still a free agent. Grade: F
Ladarius Green – TE Louisiana-Lafayette 6’6″, 240 pounds
A fourth-round selection, Green has long been perceived to be the heir-apparent to Antonio Gates.
Green had a breakout sophomore season: played all 16 games (10 starts), collecting 17 receptions for 376 yards along with three touchdowns.
Through 34 games, he has racked up 658 yards on 40 catches and three scores.
It was anticipated that Green would continue 2014 where he left off the previous season. Green managed to grab 19 throws from Philip Rivers for 226 yards and zero touchdowns.
With Gates serving a four-game suspension this season, Green is locked in as the starting tight end. Despite all his talent, and the rear-view window perhaps closing in on Gates, 2015 looks to be a make it or break it year for Green, as this is his last year under contract with San Diego. Grade: C
Johnnie Troutman – G Penn State 6’4″, 330 pounds
The fifth round, 199th selection, Troutman was instrumental on a Penn State offensive line that allowed only 12 sacks the entire 2010 season; No. 13 in the nation for fewest sacks allowed.
Entering the draft, he was considered a much better run blocker than pass blocker who could make explosive blocks once he met his man, but also getting overpowered when having to move to the second level or dealing with a quicker defensive lineman.
Troutman tore his pectoral muscle two weeks prior to the draft, thus beginning his professional career on the “Reserve/Non-Football Injury” list.
He competed for the starting left guard position in 2013; in 2014 named starting right guard after Jeromey Clary was placed on the PUP list after undergoing a second hip surgery in three months.
As mentioned above, Troutman struggles in pass protection. Although run-blocking is his strength, it is still nothing to write home to Mom about. Grade: D
*The team had no picks in the sixth round
David Molk – Center, Michigan 6’1″ 298 pounds
Selected in the seventh round, Molk played 12 games for the Bolts on special teams and in short yardage situations. He was placed on IR in December of 2012, and subsequently released in August of the following year. Presently on the roster of the Philadelphia Eagles. Grade: F
When it comes to researching article topics, I tend to go back through the archives of my website and look at ideas that I have had in years past. This morning, at 2:00 am, I ran across a scathing article I wrote about the laziness of former Charger offensive tackle Jared Gaither. I then remembered that he is still being paid by the Bolts in 2014.
He is not the only one.
Dead money contracts are those that count against the team’s salary cap despite the fact that the players are no longer on the squad. When I list the players that are still getting paid, I guarantee your blood will boil when you look at some of the names. The amounts of their pay will elevate that level of frustration, as well.
For the sake of this article, I am only going to include the players that are being paid over $100,000 without providing any services to the Chargers at all at this time. They are no longer with the team; in fact, a couple haven’t been on the team for over a year or two.
Let’s start at the bottom — lowest paid non-Chargers — and work our way up to the top, the highest paid.
DL – Lawrence Guy $100,588
WR – Vincent Brown $146,517
S – Brandon Taylor $168,469
CB – Brandon Ghee $185,000
RB – Shaun Draughn $201,176
LB – Jonas Mouton $218,340
DB – Richard Marshall $570,000
FB – Le’Ron McClain $833,334
LB – Larry English $865,000
WR – Robert Meachem $ 3,750,000
CB – Derek Cox $3,900,000
OT – Jared Gaither $4,000,000
Total amount of dead money from the aforementioned NON-CHARGERS: $14,938,424
Go ahead and let that sink in as you look at a Charger team that has been decimated by injuries. The same organization that was completely unable to make any moves prior to the trade deadline to supplement a beat-up roster. Thanks a lot, that one guy who used to be the GM here.
The total amount of dead money, including players that are not listed above, is $15,436,212.
When it comes to getting rid of and cutting poor performers or bad contracts, it’s a very difficult decision. But when a player is unable to contribute at a serviceable or acceptable level, the time to cut ties is necessary. Three of the top-four highest paid non-Bolts have played for other teams in 2014; Meachem, Cox and English. Robert Meachem is the only one that is currently on an NFL roster of those four.
Talk about a kick in the pants.
The last General Manager left Tom Telesco in a rough spot when it comes to navigating the roster and its lack of cap space. The 2015 season brings Telesco a much better opportunity to make some moves and re-sign some of his marquee players to long-term extensions; namely Philip Rivers and Eric Weddle.
Every team in the NFL has to deal with matters such as what is listed above. But it goes without saying that the Chargers were forced to make some tough decisions when cutting the players listed. But, perhaps, cutting non-performing players like Gaither, Cox, Meachem and English were actually simple decisions that came at a heavy price. At least a few of the players noted actually played for San Diego in 2014. The same can’t be said for some of the bums that made the list.
Thanks a lot for reading. Which of these players frustrated you the most due to the money they made without having contributed to the cause in 2014? Let me know by leaving your thoughts below in the comment section.
On Tuesday, June 24, the Chargers announced the signing of free agent cornerback Brandon Flowers. He was released by division rival Kansas City in a salary cap move. Releasing Flowers saved the Chiefs over seven million in cap space and put a need position player in play for all who were interested.
According to reports, ten teams were interested in Flowers including the Patriots, Ravens, Steelers, Vikings and Falcons. Flowers made two trips, a two-day stay in San Diego and a visit to San Francisco. During his visit, Flowers cancelled his visit to Minnesota.
However, Flowers visit came and went in San Diego without a deal being reached. In the end, Brandon signed a one-year, five million dollar deal (3 million guaranteed, with a chance for two million more in incentives) to play with the Chargers. I love this signing for a number of reasons.
1. The Chargers did not break the bank to sign him. Talk around the league was Flowers was asking too much and that’s why other teams backed away. The Chargers didn’t have much bank to break with under three million in cap space at the beginning of the day yesterday leading most to believe adding Flowers would be next to impossible. The Bolts did release safety Brandon Taylor last week and a couple more will likely see their tenure in lightning bolts end but wunderkind General Manager Tom Telesco found a way to make the numbers work.
2. The Chargers add a Pro Bowl player at a position of need. All Chargers fans know the secondary has been a weak spot on the defense for years. The numbers bear it out, the Chargers were 29th in pass defense last season and for near the bottom for many seasons prior. Brandon Flowers played on Team Rice in last season’s fantasy style Pro Bowl after a season in Kansas City where he logged 68 tackles, 8 passes defensed one sack and one interception during the regular season. In the Chiefs lone playoff game he had two passes defensed and an interception. Flowers was a six-year starter for the Chiefs and has been a top-10 cornerback in the league from 2007-2012. Metrics-wise, last season was a down year for him and he still made the Pro Bowl.
3. The Chargers will have money to spend next offseason. With the last of the bad contracts coming off the books this season, the Chargers will have over 30 million in cap space to sign players. This places the onus on players on one year deals like Flowers or who are in the last year of their deals such as Mathews, Freeney and Woodhead to perform knowing if they show up and play great ball all season, they will be rewarded with long-term deals next offseason. Telesco has the season to evaluate their performances and make the best decisions personnel-wise. With that in mind, barring injury, we should see Flowers at his Pro Bowl caliber self this season and in a Chargers uniform for years to come.
4. Depth. The Chargers have eleven cornerbacks on their 90 man roster. Right now, right cornerback is returning fifth round draft pick Steve Williams, Richard Marshall, Marcus Gilchrist, Brandon Jones and Brandon Ghee. At left cornerback the incumbents are Shareece Wright, Marcus Cromartie and first round draft pick Jason Verrett. Verrett is rehabbing from a shoulder injury and may miss some of training camp.
Flowers skill set fits the Chargers scheme like a glove. He’ll have to earn his spot in the starting rotation but his presence allows the Chargers to bring along Verrett at their own pace. Flowers will undoubtedly be in the starting lineup on day one of the regular season in my opinion. Add to the mix promising UDFA’s who are turning heads in camp such as ASU’s Alden Darby and Auburn’s Chris Davis and the Chargers finally have a surplus of cornerback talent instead of a deficit at the position.
5. Motivation. Aside from the potential long-term monetary gain next year, Flowers gets to stay in the AFC West and gain revenge on the team that dumped him, Kansas City. The Chargers have always had trouble with Chiefs number one wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and Flowers knows better than anyone how to cover him. He’s familiar with all the AFC West talent as the best cornerback on the Chiefs roster for six years, he’s usually charged with covering the other team’s best receiver. Add to the fact he gets a million dollar bonus if the team makes the AFC Championship game and Flowers has plenty of reason to be at his best this season.
Taking a strength from a division rival can’t be understated. The Chargers swept the Chiefs last season and taking their best cornerback widens the gap in talent between the two teams. At 28 years old, Flowers has plenty left to give and to teach to the young corners on the roster the Chargers will rely on in the future such as Verrett, Williams, Gilchrist and Wright. Flowers isn’t a veteran living off former glory. He played on the winning team in the Pro Bowl last season. The Chargers haven’t had a Pro Bowl cornerback since Antonio Cromartie in 2008. Flowers wasn’t pulled off the MASH unit of another team, he’s uninjured and ready to play. Flowers and is a plug and play addition to the roster and the secondary just improved greatly with him on the roster.
Are you excited to see Flowers in lightning bolts?
The Greg One
Brandon Taylor, who tore his ACL last December in a game against the Jets, was activated from the PUP (physically unable to perform) list today. The team has been optimistic for his speedy recovery after he underwent reconstructive surgery last January.
Chargers have activated SS Brandon Taylor (torn ACL) from PUP. First practice since January reconstruction surgery.
— Michael Gehlken (@UTgehlken) August 2, 2013
Taylor had just one start last year after being drafted out of LSU in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He will presumably compete with Marcus Gilchrist for the starting Strong Safety position.
The Chargers were somewhat mysterious in the off-season, as they showed little effort in their pursuit of a new quality starting Strong Safety; it is a serious position of need for the Chargers in both terms of roster depth and starter-quality play makers.