Watching Sunday’s epic downfall against the Kansas City Chiefs was not the only thing that was upsetting for the San Diego Chargers.
A dark ominous cloud hovered over the team and fans everywhere as they saw easily the best receiver on the team being carted off the field. Keenan Allen’s face was full of sorrow and disappointment, as he saw his season end before it began. After missing eight games in 2015, Keenan was set to have a breakout year. What he did on the field in Kansas City — six catches for 63 yards — was evidence that a monster year was indeed plausible.
On Monday, word from the Chargers camp was that they are looking to replace Keenan through free agency or from the practice squad.
Clearly, nobody can replace someone like Allen, but here are a few free agent veterans that San Diego might be placing a call to:
Rueben Randle – At 6-foot-2, Randle, 25, is without a home. He has the skills to be very successful in the NFL and has shown bouts of it during his time with the New York Giants. However, there are reports of many missed meetings and a lack of drive from the receiver. Rueben signed with the Philadelphia Eagles in late March of this year, but then was released August 28th due to a lackluster summer and preseason. The latest report was that he tried out for the New Orleans on September 6th. To date he is still unsigned.
Roddy White – A talented receiver with the Atlanta Falcons, the 6-foot White will turn 35 in November. Spending 11 seasons in Atlanta, he is currently the all-time leading receiver. He showed a bit of decline the last two seasons and admitted that he was frustrated with the smaller role in 2015. Roddy wants to play for a contender and seems content to retire if the right situation does not present itself.
Brian Hartline – The Chargers tried out Brian back in early August, however they choose to sign, then later cut, James Jones. Hartline will be 30 this November and at 6-foot-2 he possesses great hands. There were a few injuries — shoulder and collarbone — that impacted his season last year with the Cleveland Browns. However, this possession receiver can continue to help move the chains with a quarterback like Philip Rivers.
Nate Washington – The 33-year-old receiver played for Houston Texans, his third team, in 2015 and had a decent line of 48 catches for 661 yards and four touchdowns. At 6-foot-1, Nate was signed during the offseason with the New England Patriots but was later released. Reports were that he could not get on the same page as Tom Brady. He is still a valuable veteran who has been on two Super Bowl winning teams — both with Pittsburgh Steelers — and can stretch the field.
If San Diego elects to pass on any of these or any other skeptical free agents, there are two wide receivers — one on the practice squad — that could be put in the mix.
Dom Williams (PS) – The 6-foot-2 undrafted receiver out of Washington State, ran a 4.38 40-yard dash with a 40.5 inch vertical at his Pro Day. Williams was left off the invite list for the NFL combine due to the staggering number of drops he had in college. During minicamp, he made some great plays that made a small buzz around camp. At WAZU, he finished his collegiate career second in receiving yards and touchdowns for the Cougars. In watching highlights, Dom has great speed and separation, which is key for the quick-releasing Rivers.
Isaiah Burse – At 5-foot-10, Burse made the active roster due to his kick return ability, as well as an early season-ending injury to fellow wideout Stevie Johnson. Burse has the ability to play the slot and has been with San Diego since November of last year, so he is somewhat acclimated to the offense already.
Who do you think San Diego should sign/promote? Leave your answers below
Thanks for reading.
Brian “Big Kahuna” Scott
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