Chargers: An Offseason Update

The NFL Preseason is less than 40 days away, and the Los Angeles Chargers are gearing up for what should be another great season. 

Last year, the Chargers finished the season with an AFC-best 12-4 record, but because of a tiebreaker giving the Kansas City Chiefs the AFC West crown, they were forced to go into the playoffs as a wildcard team. And their season ultimately came to a disappointing end with a 41-28 loss to the eventual Super Bowl champs, the New England Patriots. 

The Bolts’ success stemmed from an incredibly well-rounded roster, as they found themselves being one of only two teams in the NFL to finish in the top 8 in overall scoring offense (T-6th) and defense (8th). The only other team that accomplished this feat was, you guessed it, the Patriots.

The Chargers’ roster was widely regarded as one of, if not the best in the league last season, and they happen to be returning most of their key players. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the moves the Bolts made this offseason that could have an impact on the upcoming campaign.

The Draft:

Draft Selections: Jerry Tillery, DT, Naris Adderley, S, Drue Tranquill, LB, Trey Pipkins, OT, Easton Stick, QB, Emeke Egbule, LB, Cortez Broughton, DT

The Chargers’ front office clearly felt that their most pressing needs were on the defensive side of the ball, particularly their 24th-ranked run defense, as they used three of their first four picks to address them. 

General manager, Tom Telesco took defensive tackle Jerry Tillery out of Notre Dame in the first round and he figures to feature prominently this year due to the lack of depth and star power at the position for the Chargers. 

The 6’6, 300-pound tackle has a rare combination of size, athleticism, and ability to get to the quarterback from an interior position that should fit perfectly with standout edge rushers, Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. Not to mention, LA’s first-rounder will also be reunited with former Notre Dame teammate, Isaac Rochell on the defensive line, which should only help with his transition to the next level. 

The franchise followed up Tillery with Deleware defensive back Nasir Adderley in the second round, before grabbing a second Irish defender in linebacker Drue Tranquill in the fourth. 

Adderly could have a significant impact on the secondary this season after displaying the ability to impact the game at multiple levels in college, especially in coverage and stopping the run. This versatility fits perfectly with their defensive scheme and has the Chargers hopeful that Adderley can slot in next to their standout rookie safety, Derwin James, to form an elite safety pairing in the years to come. 

The defensive back, who is the cousin of Hall of Fame cornerback, Herb Adderley, had four interceptions, 87 tackles, and seven passes defended for Delaware last season. 

Telesco finished off the draft selecting offensive tackle Trey Pipkins in the third, quarterback Easton Stick in the fifth, and a pair of defensive linemen in Emeke Egbule and Cortez Broughton during the sixth and seventh rounds, respectively.

Free Agency:

Key Additions: Thomas Davis, LB, Tyord Taylor, QB

Re-signed: Adrian Phillips, S, Brandon Mebane, NT, Denzel Perryman, LB

Key Losses: Jahleel Addae, S, Jason Verrett, CB, Tyrell Williams, WR

The front office for the Chargers was not extremely active in free agency as their approach stayed similar to years past: focus on building through the draft while carefully selecting a handful of free agents to bolster the roster and keeping key pieces.

Thus, former Carolina Panthers linebacker, Thomas Davis, and projected backup quarterback, Tyrod Taylor headline what was a particularly dry free agent class.

The Chargers needed to improve their linebacking core, and Thomas Davis is a mediocre (at best) addition to filling this need. During his heyday, Davis was among the best, but at 36 years of age and entering his 14th NFL season, he has his limitations. Simply put, this signing would have been incredible if it was 2009. But in 2019? Not so much.

Tyrod Taylor is another unexciting free-agent pickup, but one that could turn out to be important because Phillip Rivers, who is still among the best, is clearly in the back end of his career. 

Taylor is a more-than-adequate backup with plenty of game experience should Rivers find himself injured this season. Furthermore, the athleticism that the former Bills and Browns QB brings to the table could prove to be a nice change of pace for the offense if his number is called. 

On the other side, they let players such as Jahleel Addae, Jason Verrett, and Tyrell Williams walk. But the emergence of Derwin James and the addition of Nasir Adderley should ease the losses of Addae and Verrett.

Regardless, the team, formerly known as the San Diego Chargers, should still be very optimistic going into the 2019 campaign. After all, they were only two games away from making the Super Bowl last year and are returning their core group of players. Expectations should be “Super Bowl or bust,” and if the ball bounces the right way for them, there is nothing to say they can’t meet this goal. 

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