At this point in the free agency marathon, the Chargers have turned their focus to bringing in a veteran wide receiver. On Friday, San Francisco free agent Stevie Johnson came to Chargers Park but left without a contract. Johnson is a 6’2, 205 lb. wideout who is back to looking for work after one season with the Niners.
With the departure of Eddie Royal to the Bears the Chargers have a need for a slot receiver. Chargers GM Tom Telesco is searching for veterans and has already been spurned by Royal and Andre Johnson, formerly of the Texans. In both cases, Telesco offered more money but they decided to go elsewhere. Johnson has stated he is to make a decision on where to sign by Monday.
With the quality of available wide recievers dwindling, who else is there to choose from? The Kansas City Chiefs have cut Dwayne Bowe. Niners wide receiver Michael Crabtree is also on the market and the Chargers are expected to make runs at both of them. There is one more name out there that can bring the Chargers some impact at the wide receiver position.
Wayne was there for Telesco’s tenure in Indianapolis and the Colts have made it clear they will not be bringing the veteran back. Wayne has had a long 14-year career with the Colts, entering the league in 2001. Now 36, he has had recent injury issues but in his 14 seasons he has only missed ten games. A model of durability and consistency, Wayne has repeatedly showed his ability to take the top off a defense with his speed and elusiveness. With the emergence of T.Y. Hilton in Indianapolis, Wayne was no longer the number one receiver and the Colts viewed him as expendable.
There are concerns about his health due to his age. Others wonder whether he has anything left in the tank. In 2013, Wayne tore his ACL, causing him to miss the second half of that season. He returned and played 15 games last season, catching 64 balls for 779 yards and two touchdowns. Many want Wayne to retire a Colt but he has stated he wants to play another year with a contending team.
There is no doubt Telesco can make the deal happen and bring in Wayne. He will have the upper hand over any other GM who comes calling because of their history together. Telesco has not denied his Indianapolis roots as we’ve seen Colts don lightning bolts such as Donald Brown and Dwight Freeney.
Like Freeney, Wayne will have multiple uses on the team. As a veteran receiver who has a Super Bowl ring and has managed to stay in the game for so long and play at a high level, he will have a lot of knowledge to share with the Chargers young receiver corps. His presence will help take the pressure off Keenan Allen and Antonio Gates.
A bigger role on a unit that needs a jolt like the Chargers will make Wayne a threat again. Only missing ten games in 14 seasons is a testament to his year-round conditioning and preparedness. As sure handed as they come, Philip Rivers will be excited to see Wayne on his side of the field instead of watching him from the visitors’ sideline.
Finally, it won’t cost the Chargers a lot to secure Wayne’s services. An incentive-laden, one-year deal with an option for a second year will suffice. Even at the end of his career, Wayne can still bring an impact to the team the same way Steve Smith Sr. did last season at the ripe old age of 35. In my opinion, it’s not a matter of if this signing will happen but when.
What do you think Bolt Nation? Would you like Wayne in powder blue this season?
The Greg One
Among the throngs of Chargers fans, you would be hard pressed to find anyone who has anything negative to say about Tom Telesco. The General Manager, now heading into his second year as the team’s front office leader, has done an amazing job with very little cap space.
Telesco hit a grand slam in his first draft last season, netting offensive tackle DJ Fluker, linebacker Mantei Te’o and wide receiver Keenan Allen got the Chargers an A grade. More importantly, on the field Fluker and Allen proved themselves as starters and Te’o played well despite playing the entire season with a broken foot. I will still say Allen was robbed of the NFL Rookie Of The Year award.
Telesco’s approach of overhauling the roster, dumping overpriced and underperforming veterans in favor of younger, hungrier albeit less experienced players worked. His approach worked with the his previous team, the Indianapolis Colts. In conjunction with the drafting of quarterback Andrew Luck, the Colts went from worst to first in the AFC South. Telesco did the same thing in San Diego and last season the Chargers saw their four-year playoff drought end.
By forcing draft picks and unproven talent to step up and prove themselves on the field, Telesco has created something they haven’t had since they were the team that ruled the AFC West from 2000 to 2007, depth. The Chargers will be a force to be reckoned with on defense with the full strength returns of defensive end Dwight Freeney, last year’s fifth round draft pick in cornerback Steve Williams, outside linebacker Melvin Ingram, a finally healthy and full speed Manti Te’o and wide receiver Malcom Floyd. Add newly signed corner Brandon Flowers to what had been a weak secondary and the team is set to make another splash in the NFL postseason.
And I haven’t even mentioned the Chargers 2014 draft class in that equation…
The first two seasons have been about fixing the holes on the offensive line and improving the quality of the defense which has ranked in the bottom of the league the past few years. Now the defense is as stacked as its ever been. Barring injuries, the Chargers should have a defense in the top ten of the league. The offensive line has depth and as we saw last season, with time to throw Philip Rivers is a top five quarterback in the league. That’s not hyperbole, Rivers finished fifth in the NFL last season with 4478 yards passing and 32 touchdowns.
With the matters of depth and stability on both lines in hand, time to look forward to what aspect Telesco will tackle next. The bad contracts from the previous administration finally come off the books this season and in the next offseason the team will find themselves with more cap space than they have had since the turn of the century. The Chargers will have over 30 million to spend in free agency. The reins will be off and Telesco will finally be released from shopping in the bargain basement and now he’ll have the ability to shop in Beverly Hills.
One position which will be in desperate need of new blood will be wide receiver. Floyd, 32, is on the last year of his deal and even if he stays he will be a depth play, not a starter. This will be Floyd’s 11th season. I expect Floyd to retire after this season. Vincent Brown is at the end of his injury-marred rookie contract. Brown had a disappointing 2013 given his opportunity to step up and fill Floyd’s shoes after Floyd went down with a severe neck injury. Another lackluster season will have Brown looking for work elsewhere. Eddie Royal and Seyi Ajirotutu will also be a free agents after this season. That’s four expiring contracts at the same position. That would leave Keenan Allen and a couple of roster fillers at a critical position. Telesco has proven himself adept at filling positions of need. Here’s a look at the top free agent wide receivers in 2015:
None of these players have signed extensions. Aside from Welker, these are legitimate deep threats that will allow the Chargers to stretch the field vertically. Add in some older talents who would not require top dollar like Reggie Wayne, Roddy White, Jeremy Maclin, Sidney Rice, Kenny Britt, Josh Morgan and you have a great field of talent to choose from. Adding two players from these names would give the Chargers one of the top receiving corps in the league. It’s not unfathomable to see Thomas and Bryant both in lightning bolts. Telesco covets speed and those two have it in spades. However, that’s also two big contracts. More likely one of the two (Bryant or Thomas) coupled with Smith, Shorts, Welker or another vet on the list would be more like it. San Diego will have the resources to make that happen.
Adding two of those names along side Keenan Allen would give defensive coordinators nightmares, would extend Philip Rivers’ shelf life with an improved offensive line AND legitimate deep threats on both sides of the field (less rushing the passer) and amount to deep playoff runs. The Chargers are an up and coming franchise and with a great front office in place, money to spend and they’re already a playoff team.
Free agents will go to San Diego, as we have already seen. We all know wide receivers are divas. The key things are who’s throwing them the ball, is it a contending team and money. There’s not a receiver in the league who wouldn’t love to catch balls from Philip Rivers. The Bolts can afford to pay and they’re already pushing Denver for the top of the AFC West and making the playoffs. The team already averages 24 points per game without marquee wideouts (aside from Allen). Imagine what they will be able to do with them!
Who would you like to see the Chargers sign next season?
The Greg One
Tomorrow night the Chargers face their toughest test of this young season. The team hosts the Indianapolis Colts on Monday Night football. These are the same Colts that managed to knock off both the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks. It is safe to say that they aren’t too shabby.
Indianapolis is led by second-year Quarterback Andrew Luck. Despite having a below average offensive line, Luck has managed to put up solid numbers in 2013. His stats to this point include 1,144 yards passing with a completion percentage of 62.2%. Among those passes he has thrown 7 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions.
San Diego’s Monday night foe just recently consummated a trade that left some Charger fans wishing that it was done by former Colt front office member, Tom Telesco. Indy shipped a 2014 first round draft choice to the Cleveland Browns to acquire Running Back Trent Richardson. Although Richardson was able to get the ball in the endzone often while in Cleveland, he did not necessarily show the ability that you’d expect from the number three pick in an NFL draft. However, Richardson is only 22 years old. There is still plenty of time for him to hone his craft and become a future superstar in this league. Although I’m not sure that the Colts should have given up a first round pick to gain the services of Trent Richardson, I do believe that the move will pay dividends in the near future.
When assessing the success of Andrew Luck, while knowing that he is calling plays behind a subpar offensive line, you need only to look as far as the receiving corp that he has at his disposal.
Now that he is going into his 13th season, Reggie Wayne knows defenses before most young defenders know their own defenses. Wayne has obviously lost a step. And yet, he must be salivating at opportunity to test the Charger secondary tomorrow night. Wayne is a crafty veteran with incredibly sure hands. The fact that he stayed in Indianapolis after “that one guy” left shows that he had to believe in the young signal caller in Luck. My hope is that he does not give the Bolts’ defensive backs fits during the game.
Another weapon to contend with is T.Y. Hilton. I might go as far as to say that, unless you play fantasy football, you might not know who this guy is at wideout for the Colts. Hilton is known for stretching the field and defenses are still getting burned by this speedster out of Florida International. He will certainly be a force to be reckoned with knowing that the over-the-top help has been non-existent in the Charger secondary. Meaning, Marcus Gilchrist has been really, really bad at covering his portion of the field in ANY type of coverage. It goes without saying, for those of you that breakdown the tape, Eric Weddle has spent a substantial amount of time playing in what could be considered a Linebacker/Box Strong Safety spot. He has also managed to moonlight at his intended position of Free Safety and additional Cornerback in some defensive sets. He’s a busy guy.
The Colts have lost sophomore Tight End Dwayne Allen for the year. The good news for them is that Coby Fleener was the first of the two Tight Ends that were selected in last year’s draft. Though Fleener had an injury-riddled rookie campaign, he has already had an impact in 2013. Similar to Hilton, although at a different position, his speed at TE should test the Charger defense.
I refuse to write anything about Darius Heyward-Bey-Rucker-Huxtable-Perry. Why, you ask? Because we just dropped a game to the former Raider Wide Receiver’s team. He is fast. He could spell trouble for the Chargers.
Well, there you have it. This game will certainly be a barometer for the dilapidated San Diego defense. They have taken on the form of the 32nd ranked pass defense in the NFL. Actually, they have earned that distinction. And now they have a kid that is attempting to live up to the hype of former Colt Quarterback, Peyton Manning.
Stay tuned to BoltBlitz as later today I look at the Indy defense, both the Charger offense and defense, another quest to find quality writers for the site and I’ll finally be posting my “Get to know the staff” piece about me.
Better late than never? The jury is still out.