Free Agency

srivers2

Stephen Rivers, brother of San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, is getting his shot to play in the NFL. The Arizona Cardinals have brought him in for a free agent tryout, per multiple sources.

Rivers is an imposing figure, standing 6″7′, 235 lbs. In April he competed at the NFL Regional minicamp held in the Cardinals home stadium. He will be one of four quarterbacks at Cardinals camp. Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton and undrafted free agent Jake Coker all will be slinging the pigskin at camp.

The younger Rivers, 24, has had his playing career go in the opposite direction than that of his famous brother. Whereas Philip was a record-breaking four-year starter at N.C. State, Stephen has started a total of nine games and transferred schools twice. Stephen backed up Zack Mettenberger at LSU, only throwing two passes in three years. Rivers then transferred to Vanderbilt and later to Northwestern State.

Rivers is excited about the opportunity, posting this to his Twitter account today:

 

Some may ask why Chargers GM Tom Telesco wouldn’t bring in Rivers to camp. Simple answer: Do you want to be one to tell Philip Rivers you’re cutting his brother? Besides, Stephen probably wants to step out of his brothers’ shadow, not live within it.

On that note, we at Boltblitz pass along our best wishes to Stephen Rivers in hopes he can find a home on an NFL roster. Arizona would be a great place to learn and play because he would have time to grow and mature. He is also close enough to San Diego that it would be a short road trip for nostalgic Chargers fans to see another Rivers on the field once Philip retires. More Rivers in the NFL is always a good thing.

 

Bolt Up!!

 

The Greg One

 

#goodluckStephen

heyward1

 

The San Diego Chargers have made another addition to their secondary. According to multiple media outlets, cornerback Casey Hayward is now the newest addition to the Bolts’ roster. The contract equates to three years at $15.3 million, including $6.8 million guaranteed. The Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers were also teams reported to have been in pursuit of Hayward.

Hayward, 26, was a second-round selection of the Green Bay Packers in 2012. Standing 5-foot-11, 192 pounds, he will compete with Brandon Flowers for the No. 2 cornerback position opposite Jason Verrett. In his rookie season, Hayward shined by finishing tied fifth in the league in interceptions with six.

Hamstring injuries derailed his sophomore campaign, costing Hayward all but three games in 2013. He has since bounced back and played in every game the last two seasons. During his time in the NFL, Hayward has 168 tackles, 35 passes defensed, nine interceptions, two fumble recoveries, one forced fumble and one touchdown.

The Chargers have a strong top-three-cornerback rotation with this addition. The question now is what will happen with Patrick Robinson. Robinson is a free agent and had a strong 2015 season in San Diego so he’s bound to get offers from other teams. Retaining his services would ensure quality depth, but the price tag may be too high considering other holes that still need to be filled.

Keep in mind, cornerback Steve Williams had a very strong showing on the field in the last games of the season. If he can continue to build on his those games going into the ’16 season, it’s more reason the front office can justify letting Robinson take a deal elsewhere.

What do you think of the add? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Bolt Up!!

 

The Greg One

 

#TelescoMagic

 

 

lowery2

 

It wouldn’t be a San Diego Chargers free agency if former Colts GM Tom Telesco didn’t sign a Colt to the roster. For the fourth consecutive year, the trend continues. The Chargers GM has just added ex-Colts safety Dwight Lowery to their roster, filling the void left by Eric Weddle.

Lowery, 30, has agreed to a three-year contract. Terms of the deal have not yet been disclosed.  An eight-year veteran, Lowery is 5’11”, 212 lbs. The Chargers will be the fifth team he’s played on. Originally drafted by the New York Jets in 2008, he spent three years in New York, three years in Jacksonville and one season each in Atlanta and Indianapolis.

Although his career trajectory was hampered by injury in the 2012 and ’13 seasons, Lowery has rebounded and played every game the last two seasons. Over the course of his career, he has 335 tackles, 5 sacks, 59 passes defensed, 16 interceptions and theee defensive touchdowns.

Another solid free agent addition by Telesco. What do you think of the signing. Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Bolt Up!!

 

The Greg One

 

#TelescoMagic

mebane

 

The San Diego Chargers have been very busy on this first day of free agency. Moments ago it was reported the Bolts have signed defensive tackle Brandon Mebane to a three-year contract. Terms of the contract have not yet been disclosed.

Mebane, was a key member of the Seattle Seahawks at the height of their ‘Legion of Boom’ run of dominance, anchoring the middle of the defensive line. The 31-year old nine-year veteran stands 6’1″ and tips the scale at 311 lbs. A picure of durability, he has only missed 13 games in his career. A hamstring injury in 2014 was responsible for seven of those thirteen absences.

Taken in the third round of the 2007 draft, Mebane compiled 329 tackles, 15.5 sacks, 8 passes defensed, 2 forced fumbles and 3 fumble recoveries in Seattle. Mebanes’ reputation is that of a disruptive force in the middle that specializes in pushing the pocket and stuffing the run. One of the top rated interior linemen on a yearly basis, Mebane will push past Sean Lissemore and Ryan Carrethers as the starting nose tackle next season.

Kudos to GM Tom Telesco and the Chargers front office for bringing in impact players on day one!

 

Bolt Up!!

 

The Greg One

 

#TelescoMagic

Gipson

 

The Chargers need help in a big way at numerous positions between now and Week 1 of the regular season if they want to make a push for the division and make their first playoff appearance since 2013. The number one thing Tom Telesco should search for in a player is a distinctive nastiness giving them that much-needed enforcer.

The Bolts need help at O-Line, and what better way to beef it up by adding a brute up front. Inconsistent play has led to a porous run game that yields next to nothing, and Philip Rivers finds himself on his behind a lot more than he should be.

Re-signing Joe Barksdale to a four-year, $22.2 million deal that includes $10.5 million guaranteed was a step in the right direction to help rectify that problem. Also, the Chargers have a lack of depth and experience at receiver with Keenan Allen being the only receiver with continuity with Rivers, as he’s served as one of Rivers’ three core targets over the last two and a half seasons.

Lastly, the Bolts’ D-Line resembles that of a pillow fight. It almost feels like it’s impossible to get pressure on opposing signal callers and get stops in the run game. The Chargers can go out and sign a quality D-Lineman or a run-stuffing specialist.

There’s plenty of talent out there this year, but, most importantly, they need to snag a defensive enforcer off of the market. A player that will not only be a good influence in the locker room and the community, but a player that will get the team fired up in practices, on game days and will keep them amped up throughout the duration of contests. That being said, there are a couple of names out there who I believe fit that category, and I even have a couple combo signings/draftees that together could bring that to the team.

 

Derrick Johnson (MLB; Kansas City Chiefs): A player that I like for the Chargers’ defense is someone who I cannot envision in a different uniform than the one he is currently in and that is Derrick Johnson. Johnson was the catalyst for an elite Chiefs defense and although he was one the shelf for virtually all of the 2014 season, he had a solid bounce back campaign in 2015 with 116 total tackles, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and eight passes defended. Johnson would be an instant impact from the moment he puts the pen to the paper.

He impacts every facet of the game, while possessing undeniable talent. He also plays the run well and can cover running backs out of the backfield. Johnson is entering his 11th year in the NFL. What stands out most is a career 68 passes defended. He is by no means afraid to step up and cover anybody across the middle or creeping outside of the numbers.

Not only would Johnson be a huge help with his leadership on the field, but his locker room presence has the ability to bring everybody together and make them really play for each other like they should be doing. San Diego has the talent and tools on the defensive side of the ball, but they lack the grit and determination to be a truly imposing defense. A Johnson-Te’o-Perryman trio could have the potential to stir up some ruckus on that side of the ball, and when you add that to Ingram and Attaochu rushing, with the possibility of drafting Bosa, the defense would have fun and fans would be thrilled while watching them perform. That’s what Johnson can bring to the table.

He makes everybody better and, in addition to all of this, he knows the Chiefs’ defense and could provide leverage on those key divisional clashes. We couldn’t picture LT in another jersey; same with Peyton, Dwight Freeney, and even McNabb. But it certainly does happen. Let’s see if the Bolts can pry Johnson away from KC.

Tashaun Gipson + Jalen Ramsey: Next up is a signing and draftee duo. They go by the names of Tashaun Gipson and Jalen Ramsey. Gipson has grappled with health issues during his tenure in the NFL, as he’s only played one full season during his four seasons in the league. But when he’s healthy, he is indeed a playmaker and a highly qualified candidate to replace Weddle. He plays fast and can play the run, as well playing in space.

Jalen Ramsey is just about as good as they come. His broad jump, 135.0″ and his vertical leap of 41.5″ were the best at the combine and matched the likes of Patrick Peterson. He could improve on his speed, but I would really like the Chargers to select him with the third pick, and sit back and watch the Bolts groom him into a dominant, energetic force on a soon to be electric defense.

These two would bring a new element to the Chargers’ defense that would be not only highly flexible, but would add to an already up-and-coming unit lead by stud Jason Verrett. I don’t expect Telesco to go safety in the draft if he goes after Gipson, but this combo would be very nice to have. This obviously means Addae would be relegated to the bench again.

That is something I don’t mind as he seems to thrive in that role, and to be completely honest, I don’t trust him as a starter. What he lacks in speed he surely makes up for with power and hitting, but his big plays always seem to get nullified by flags. San Diego would rather prefer conservative tackling’ especially with the way the league is becoming receiver friendly, and that’s something that is not Addae’s forte.

Chris Long:  Another signing that would bolster the defense is recently released DE Chris Long. Primarily a 4-3 player in St. Louis, it would be a slight stylistic shift, but I’m sure Long wouldn’t scoff at making that adjustment. He wasn’t cut due to performance issues or battles with injuries, a contractual stalemate between he and the Rams was the reason for his release.

I can see Long coming in on a two-year, $9 million deal and being a more dynamic Jarret Johnson. Johnson was a reliable tackler as well as a great locker room presence. Chris Long could be “the guy” in a system tailored for him, and I believe that system to be John Pagano’s. What’s best about Long is that the Chargers could get him for a bargain. He’s not so much an enforcer or an outlaw, but he’s the next best thing.

 Joey Bosa:  Lastly, a guy that sticks out more than all the others is Joey Bosa. The Ohio State Buckeye is projected to go top five in a slew of mock drafts, and the Bolts hold the No. 3 pick. With the Browns’ situation at QB, it wouldn’t be too unrealistic to see them go searching for a QB at No. 2, leaving the Chargers either Bosa or Ramsey to choose from.

Either of them make sense and would propel this defense to destructive heights, but Bosa is a freak of nature. His body is NFL ready and he boasts an ultra-competitive attitude. Bosa could not be slowed by the opposition in college even when specifically schemed for, illustrating the level of talent he claims. He was constantly in the backfield whether it be for a sack or a tackle for loss. His firm and strong hands are a huge reason as to why he can be a defensive pillar in the NFL, but Pagano must be willing to move him around.

A player such as JJ Watt cannot be duplicated, but when you are compared to him in any way, you know you’re doing something right. His speed is a rough patch, but there’s always time to get faster. Adding him to this defense will not only take the heat off some of the cornerbacks, but would alleviate pressure off of most everyone on defense. This, in turn, would spawn more wins, less communication errors and, importantly, happier fans.

Charlie LaFurno

Ladarius Green 2014

 

Per NFL Insider Adam Schefter and other NFL media outlets, San Diego Chargers tight end Ladarius Green is about to become a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

 

 

 

 

After signing Antonio Gates to a two-year deal Wednesday, Green was high on the Chargers’ priority list. San Diego GM Tom Telesco said in the media that he was going to the NFL Combine to speak to the agents for both tight ends in hopes of re-signing them.

Green was the Chargers fourth-round pick in 2012. Expected to be the heir apparent to Antonio Gates, Green suffered with injuries and concussions. Although he showed flashes of the potential the Chargers expected, Green was slow to develop. There has been enough good tape on Green for the Steelers to woo him to play in the Steel City in an already loaded offense.

Green finished his tenure with the Bolts with 77 receptions for 1,087 yards and seven touchdowns.

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The move has not been officially announced yet, but the San Diego Chargers will release inside linebacker Donald Butler if not today, soon.

On his Twitter account, Butler said his goodbye to his teammates and the fans:

 

Butler, 27, played in San Diego for six seasons and compiled 373 combined tackles, 12 passes defensed, 3 interceptions, 5 forced fumbles and one touchdown.

In the end, Butler’s salary cap number was too high and his on-field production was too low for the Chargers to justify keeping Butler in the fold. Taking his place will be promising linebacker Denzel Perryman, who had assumed Butlers’ starting spot in the lineup halfway through the season and finished the season as the starter.

Like many others, Butler will look to restart his career with a new team through free agency which begins next week. Best of luck, Donald. That is, unless you sign in the AFC West.

 

Bolt Up!!

 

The Greg One

 

#freeagentseason

laurinitis

 

A week away from the official beginning of the free agency period, teams are already cutting players to save cap space. That space will then be used to sign their replacements. A handful of recognizable players have already been shown the door and more will come after free agent signings begin.

Big names who have already been added to the unemployment line include running backs Matt Forte and Arian Foster; safeties Michael Griffin and William Moore and other notables add to an growing list of names. Over the past couple of days former New Orleans Saints record-holding wide receiver Marques Colston and Ex-Buffalo Bills/Houston Texans standout defensive end Mario Williams were shown the door.

On Monday, March 7 those names and many more will find new homes during the six-week buffer zone between the start of free agency and the NFL Draft. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. To that end, one of those early cap casualties would be a great fit on the Chargers defense.

Enter Rams cap casualty James Laurinaitis.

Laurinaitis was an integral part of a stout Rams defense. The middle linebacker is on the right side of 30 as he won’t celebrate that milestone until December. Entering his eighth season in the NFL, he averages 122 combined tackles per season and has not missed a single NFL game. Over the length of his career, Laurinaitis has amassed 16.5 sacks, 34 passes defensed, 10 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles and one safety.

A player that dependable and in the Chargers case, that durable is badly needed. With Donald Butler all but out the door, Laurinaitis would be a substantial upgrade.

Last season Butler had 43 combined tackles, 2 passes defensed and one interception over the entire season. Over the course of his six-year career he has averaged 80 combines tackles and has compiled 7 sacks, 12 passes defensed, 6 forced fumbles, 3 interceptions and one touchdown. He’s missed 25 games and been docked game time when he is healthy because of his subpar play.

Almost not fair to compare the two is it?

Simply put, Laurinaitis is in his prime and the San Diego defense needs more playmakers and better tacklers. Laurinaitis is a tackling machine. His instincts keep him near the ball at all times. He is not a Ram anymore not because his production fell, it’s because he makes too much money and the Rams couldn’t afford him.

Chargers GM Tom Telesco fired up the fan base when he said he was going to be more active in free agency than he has ever been. A signing like this would show a commitment to bettering the team now, rather than finding a low-cost replacement for players on the way out.

The market will have quite a few teams bidding for his services. At present, Laurinaitis has a visit to New Orleans scheduled for next week. Teams are going to have to ante up and put together a good 4-year deal minimum to win his services. For the old school fans of professional wrestling, to have the son of the legendary Road Warrior Animal on the team would be pretty damn cool. Laurinaitis has shown the son of Animal has grown into a beast in his own right!

animal

 

 

 

 

Bolt Up!!

 

The Greg One

 

#signthisman

 

ChrisHairston

 

 

It seems as if the San Diego Chargers are still tweaking the offensive line with the addition of tackle, Chris Hairston. The fomer fourth rounder and Buffalo Bill was a restricted free agent who was not re-signed.

At 6-foot-6 and tipping the scales at 330 pounds, Hairston will be one more addition to the offenisve line depth chart. The extent of depth is extremely important for the unit considering the line was the most injured group last year. Additionally, Hairston is versatile and has played both the tackle and guard position. His bulky size and physicality are great possessions to have in pass protection or run blocking situations.

Just before Tom Telesco added Hairston, the Bolts signed Michael Huey, a former guard for the Arizona Rattlers. The offensive line is starting to look like they will be heading into a highly competitive training camp. With only a 53-man roster, men will be fighting for a playing spot.

The signing of Hairston reunites him with current Chargers offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris. He was also teammates with free agent aquisition and wide receiver Stevie Johnson for three seasons in Buffalo.

 

What do you think of Chris Hairston wearing lightning bolts? Let us know below.

Thanks and Bolt Up!

 

Cheryl White

O Line

 

 

After Tom Telesco was brought in as the new general manager in 2013, one of his priorities was to improve the offensive line. That year he drafted right tackle, D.J. Fluker out of Alabama. Although it partially aided the right side, the addition wasn’t enough.

In 2014, injuries plagued the offensive unit into oblivion. Philip Rivers went without veteran center and longtime teammate, Nick Hardwick, after he spent almost the entire season on injured reserve. By the end of the year, Rivers was on his fifth center. According to Pro Football Focus, San Diego ranked 27th in pass blocking, and 26th in run blocking at the end of last season. If things are going to change in 2015, Telesco needs to make ascendant transactions.

As the team made its way into the offseason, Bolt fans questioned how the Chargers will find the talent needed to fix the offensive line. Telesco started off by re-signing left tackle, King Dunlap, this year’s respectively best free agent in his position. Shortly after locking up Rivers’ stud blocker, the young general made great strides by signing former Denver Bronco’s guard, Orlando Franklin to the roster. In addition to securing Dunlap and Franklin, Telesco also re-signed center Trevor Robinson. These transactions alone have brought the Chargers’ very mediocre line to a contending unit.

So, have the Bolts done enough to fix the offensive line? The answer is almost. According to Eric D. Williams of ESPN, Tom Telesco stated that Johnnie Troutman, as of right now, is the team’s starting right guard. Considering Troutman has been far from impressive, that’s extremely alarming. WalterFootball.com reported that Johnnie Troutman and Chad Reinhart were the worst guard duo in the league in 2014. Franklin replaces Rinehart, but that still leaves a frightening breach at right guard.

There has been a lot of talk about shifting Fluker from tackle to guard this offseason. He has no experience in the position. Not in high school, and not in college. Yet, let’s say he is moved, it still leaves a gap in the tackle position. A potentially effective way to address the matter would be to swing Fluker to the inside, and find a tackle in this year’s draft. Even though San Diego needs a running back after the departure of Ryan Mathews, this year’s draft class is loaded with talented running backs. It’s not an outrageous option to think about taking a offensive lineman like Ereck Flowers in the first round.

A solid offensive line has proven fruitful for some clubs in the NFL. Since 2011, the Dallas Cowboys have drafted three offensive linemen in the first-round: Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin. The other two, Ronald Leary and Doug Free, were undrafted free agents. Last season, the Cowboys finished with the 4th best pass blocking, and the 2nd best run blocking in the league. If the Chargers want those type of results, it would have to be from following Dallas’ blueprint.

As of today, the line lists as follows: LT King Dunlap, LG Orlando Franklin, C Chris Watt, RG Johnnie Troutman, and RT D.J. Fluker. Not bad, but not stellar. If the Bolts plan to contend for a playoff appearance in 2015, they will need a comprehensive offensive line. An upgraded line will upsurge Rivers’ productivity, plus adding some life to the lackluster run game. With less than five weeks left until the 2015 NFL Draft, fans will have to continue to wait and see what the Chargers organization plan to do with their six picks.

 

Should the Chargers draft a offensive lineman in the first round? Vote your opinion below:

 

 

Should the Chargers draft an offensive lineman in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft?

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Briana Soltis
(@BrianaSoltis)

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