There are countless past (and some present) NFL stars still floating in the abyss known as free agency. Some are available because they have outlived their usefulness. Some make too much money for their team to afford to keep them. Some are the last to know their days are over and they hold press conferences while doing shirtless sit-ups in their driveway.
One recent addition to the free agent whirlpool shouldn’t still be there.
Former Detroit Lions middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch is still in search of a new team. The Lions cut Tulloch on July 5th and almost three weeks later, he hasn’t visited another team. According to the Detroit Free Press, Tulloch had offseason arthroscopic ankle surgery and didn’t pass a physical until the day he was released.
Media reports out of Detroit and different NFL sites speculate the Lions didn’t bring Tulloch back amid concerns of his age, declining lateral quickness and inability to play in coverage.
This is also coming from a team that recently fired most of their front office and has a brand new General Manager calling the shots. One could question the decisions coming out of the front office if they didn’t consider trying to get something for him before the draft if they knew he wasn’t part of the future in Detroit.
There are too many reasons why San Diego should sign this man.
Veteran leadership: Tulloch is 5’11”, 245-pounds and turned 31 on January 1st. A ten-year veteran of the NFL, Tulloch played the first five years of his career in Tennessee before signing on with the Lions. He would be an outstanding mentor to the budding young linebacker corps in San Diego while showing them how it’s done on the field. (i.e. Dwight Freeney).
Durability: The man is beyond durable for his position. Outside of his 2014 season where he suffered a torn ACL in game three, Tulloch has not missed a single NFL game.
Productivity: Tulloch is a tackling machine. Last season, he led Detroit in tackles with 107 combined tackles (74 solo). In six of the last seven seasons, Tulloch has recorded over 100 combined tackles. In his career to date he has 942 tackles, 14.5 sacks, 27 passes defensed and five interceptions.
By comparison, no member of the current Chargers’ roster has had a 100-tackle season. The last ones to do it were Eric Weddle, Takeo Spikes and Stephen Cooper.
Fit: Tulloch would move into a rotation that at the moment lists Manti Te’o, Denzel Perryman, Joshua Perry and Nick Dzubnar as the current middle linebackers. Tulloch would form a great two-down, run-stuffing linebacker. He would form an excellent tandem with the Bolts’ free agent acquisition, defensive tackle Brandon Mebane.
There’s only one logical reason this addition hasn’t happened yet. Money.
Tulloch was in the final year of a five-year, 25.5-million deal he signed in 2012. The base for Tulloch for 2016 was to be 5.5-million. The Lions paid him a 500,000 roster bonus in March. Paying him in the new league year allows them only take a 1.3-million cap hit for releasing him. The Lions free themselves of that contract and Tulloch is officially a free agent.
Any team could sign him for the veterans’ minimum. of course, he’ll want more than that but if they wanted, the Chargers could have him in lightning bolts before training camp begins on the 30th. There’s nothing wrong with competition and bringing in Tulloch would push Te’o and Dzubnar to step up their game or be replaced.
Defense wins championships. This signing would make the defense even more formidable and advance the development of the Chargers’ young nucleus even more. What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One
There’s an Amber Alert out at Chargers Park. Donald Butler is missing. I don’t know if there’s a reward for information as to his whereabouts, but if you do see him, please show him the way to the team facility.
There’s been some guy on the Chargers defense wearing #56, but that really isn’t THE Donald Butler, but some imposter. I say this because it’s quite apparent the real Donald Butler, the captain of the defense and impact player has been absent.
The guy wearing #56 is putting up career norms in terms of tackles, but there’s no impact. No game changing presence. That guy out there looks pedestrian. Sometimes he looks lost, and other times looks just straight up stupid — does the Personal Foul call when Ronnie Hillman was on the ground on both knees and #56 speared him ring a bell?
As an inside linebacker, one of the responsibilities is to keep an eye on the backfield and watch for the improvisational run on pass plays. That just hasn’t happened as the likes of Carson Palmer and Alex Smith got big gains on the Charger defense when the pass wasn’t there. Inside linebackers provide run support and drop into pass coverage as well. He and his partner, be it Kavell Conner, Andrew Gachkar or Mantei T’eo are responsible for the back out of the backfield and, at times, the tight end. There have been too many times receivers come clean over the middle or the back comes uncovered out in the flat. This has to be cleaned up if our boys are going to make a serious run at the post season tournament. Butler has to come out of hiding.
I had the opportunity to talk briefly with his former mentor, Takeo Spikes on SiriusXM NFL Radio Saturday afternoon and he agreed. Spikes stopped himself short of saying Butler is off to a slow start this year, but did say “he just needs to play his role.” But Spikes added, “When you’re a linebacker, you’re responsible for everything going on around you.”
Butler wears the headset and is captain of the defense. As such, he is responsible for making sure the other 10 guys are in the right position. He’s responsible for making the pre-snap adjustments as the opposing offense audibles, goes in motion or changes the formation.
Spikes went on to say that, in that role, sometimes a player mentally tries to do too much and winds up not making the plays he needs to make. When Butler and Spikes played next to each other, Butler’s role was to make plays with only 10% of the mental “responsibility” for others. Takeo wore the headset when he played for the Bolts. He also said that he’s been waiting for T’eo to show up, and alluded to his absence might be part of the issue as Spikes isn’t working with the top of the depth chart at his side.
Spikes did not say that any of this is definitely the cause of his lack of impact on the defense. He said he doesn’t know what the cause is as he hasn’t spoken with him recently, but offered up possible scenarios. He did say that Butler does need to spend more time worrying about himself and not “worrying about everyone else.”
Right now, it’s safe to say the Butler didn’t do it.
We all rave about the acquisitions made by Tom Telesco in his 18 or so months as Chargers’ GM. Picking up guys like Danny Woodhead and Donald Brown were popular moves among many fans. Draft picks like D.J. Fluker, Keenan Allen, Jason Verrett and Jerry Attaochu had fans applauding.
But what about the departures? The players Telesco let go are probably just as noteworthy as the players he signed as free agents or drafted. Here are my top five releases/non-signings over the past year and a half:
Top spot has to be Derek Cox. Cox was benched by Mike McCoy almost more than he saw playing time. He was awful, he was horrible. He got burned, embarrassed, humiliated, caught flat-footed and out of position so much you’d think he was a pee wee leaguer. Personally, I hated Derek Cox more than I hate the cable company bearing the same name.
Next up, none other than the “Big Lazy”, Jared Gaither. Yeah, he came in during the 2011 season and pulled enough wool over A.J. Smith’s eyes as a savior at left tackle to get a stupid contract. Surprisingly, he spent more of 2012 “hurt” than he did suiting up. Apparently, the meeting Telesco had with Gaither before training camp went so well, Telesco decided cutting Gaither was worth the cap pain that would inflict.
The second spot was really a toss-up between Gaither and Robert Meacham. Wow, epic bust. He was a #3 or #4 on the New Orleans depth chart, brought in to be #2 behind Malcolm Floyd. Nobody ever will mistake Meacham for Vincent Jackson. He was such a bust, he even found himself in Norv Turner’s dog house and hardly saw playing time the second half of the season.
In this spot, Clipboard Jesus. A.J. lets this guy go to Seattle to try and be a starter, which failed miserably. So what does he do? Bring him back again to carry Philip Rivers’ water bottle and jock strap. In Charlie’s defense, why would he turn down the contract A.J. offered? Dude made some good money to stay clean, wear a baseball cap and hold a clipboard.
Lastly, we have Takeo Spikes. I liked this guy. He played hard, he worked hard, he was a leader and a mentor for the younger guys, but he’d lost a couple of steps. Defense had to get younger, and Takeo, having seen better days, needed to be released.
There are others, of course, but these are the most notable non-moves/releases from where I sit.
It has been made very obvious that the Chargers are doing what they can to get younger as a football team. It can also be said that they made a conscious effort to get younger at both the general manager and head coach positions as well.
Tom Telesco has already started to leave his mark on the 2013 Chargers. He has done so by either releasing veteran players or not re-signing some players that have been wearing lightning bolts for quite some time.
For those of you that had the opportunity to watch the interview between myself and Jerome Watson, @SkinnyDuzIt on Twitter, you already know how I feel about the departing veterans.
As fans, we tend to admire and love the players’ personalities more than we respect, or understand, their ability to continue to play the game at a high level. It is almost as though fan favorites can be placed into two separate categories.
Those two categories are:
Guys who are still competing at the highest level in comparison to their peers around the league.
Guys that are leaders on the field and in the community and have been around for a long time, or guys that have great personalities, outrageous hairdos, funny cars, or all of the above. (This group has two major things in common. Older and no longer producing at a high level.)
Players like Quentin Jammer, Takeo Spikes, Antonio Garay, Randy McMichael, and Shaun Phillips are gone. I do not see any chance that even one of them are coming back. Garay is already a New York Jet. I suppose there is a slight chance that Jammer could return as a strong safety but I do not think that will occur.
Although not as seasoned as the aforementioned former Chargers, Antoine Cason and Louis Vasquez are also no longer on the team. Neither are older players but it does add to the fact that Telesco has a plan and it does not include either player.
It is always difficult to watch your favorite players be cut or released. Sometimes it’s even more difficult once you see them wearing another team’s jersey. But, the fact of the matter is this is a business. And, quite honestly, they will be replaced by younger, cheaper players that can perform as well, if not better, than the guys who are no longer in San Diego.
I wish them all the best. They all have made various contributions both on the field and off of it. It is both of those things that will be missed by some. The latter will be what the more serious, fact/stat based fans will miss.
Thanks a lot for reading.
There has been a move in Charger Nati0n today. Fifteen year veteran and middle linebacker Takeo Spikes has been released today by the San Diego Chargers.
Takeo has been a leader everywhere he played, being voted as captain for four teams, one being the San Diego Chargers. He was first voted captain by the Cincinnati Bengals in his second year in the league following the year prior when he led the team in tackles as a rookie.
He has played in over 200 games in the NFL and has recorded over 1400 tackles along with 29 sacks, 19 interceptions, and 15 forced fumbles.
During his 15 year tenure in the league, Spikes has managed to make the Pro Bowl two times (2003 and 2004) and was voted All-Pro in the same years as well.
Takeo Spikes is 36 years old and still claims he has one more year in him but this release seems as if retirement may be imminent.
Make sure to continue to #ReadTheBlitz and #BoltUp
It is common knowledge that the Chargers have many positions that need upgrading in the 2013 offseason. The most obvious positions of need happen to be on the offensive line.
But let’s get one thing straight. The Chargers have many holes in their roster in addition to the offensive line.
Ryan Mathews has shown that he is incapable of being a workhorse running back due to repeated injuries and an inability to stay on the field on third down. Although Mathews is a decent receiver out of the backfield, he is a poor blocker, at best, in passing situations. There is no need to get started on his fumbling issues. The aforementioned facts show that there is a need at running back in the Charger offense as either a replacement for Ryan or as a complimentary piece to him.
Despite Donald Butler getting better in each and every game, it is hard to imagine how he would perform with a solid inside linebacker playing next to him in our 3-4 defense. I know that Takeo Spikes has become a fan favorite, but his best years have long passed him by. If the Chargers were to find another solid player to play next to Butler, our youthful, improving defense would only get that much better.
I have had a good time making up nicknames for Atari Bigby. He set himself up pretty good with his name announcement during the Monday night contest versus Denver. All joking aside, Bigby’s inability to wrap up, coupled with his penchant to bite on play action, made him a serious detriment to the success of the Bolt defense. The Chargers haven’t had a quality strong safety since the days of Rodney Harrison. Yes, it has been that long.
Now that Antoine Cason and Quentin Jammer have completed the final year of their contracts, the Chargers are now left searching for two starting cornerbacks. Despite Jammer being one of my favorite Chargers, it is nearly impossible to think that he will be back as a cornerback with the team. The door might be open for him to sign a hometown discount to return as astrong safety as we talked about last night on “All Out Blitz.” Cason is a player that could price himself out of our range while being allowed t shop free agency. My hope is that we bring him back but only at the right price. Cornerback will need to be addressed with multiple players in any case.
Those are the obvious holes, in my mind, that need addressing on the 2013 San Diego Chargers. You could easily add in defensive tackle and defnsive line depth as well. Also, you can never have enough quality depth on the offensive line either.
Below you will notice a poll asking the very same question in the title. Excluding offensive line, which position is in need of upgrading the most in San Diego?
Please vote and leave a comment below stating why you voted for the position that you did.
Thanks a lot for reading and voting.