The San Diego Chargers season ended after the loss to the Cincinnati Bengals last week, so it is time to look toward the future.
They have a long list of free agents heading into the off-season. I went through the Chargers roster to see which contracts were ending after the season.
Here is the list of starters expected to become free agents:
LB Antwan Applewhite – Restricted Free Agent
LB Stephen Cooper
OT Jeromey Clary
LB Kevin Burnett
WR Malcom Floyd
WR Vincent Jackson
S Eric Weddle
DL Jacques Cesaire
RB Mike Tolbert – Restricted Free Agent
Just like last off-season, this year’s list is headlined by WR Vincent Jackson. Jackson is a Pro-Bowl Wide Receiver that held a contract dispute during the season. There is talk that the Chargers will use the Franchise Tag (if it still exists after the Collective Bargaining Agreement is signed) on him to keep him as a Charger for another year.
The other starting WR, Malcom Floyd, will become a free agent also. He struggled to stay healthy during the season and that may have hurt his hopes of getting a big contract. This will give the Chargers a better opportunity to keep him wearing the Blue and Yellow.
Starting linebackers Stephen Cooper and Kevin Burnett will both be free agents. Cooper is a key contributor on the defense who is intelligent, makes all the play calls and is the defensive captain. He would be very difficult to replace on the defense if he left. Burnett is also a very good defensive middle linebacker, but he may have performed well enough to find a bigger contract elsewhere.
Starting RT Jeromey Clary gets a lot of flack from Chargers fans, but he plays his position pretty well. It will be interesting to see what the Chargers do with Clary. Brandyn Dombrowski is the backup to the position and may fill the starters role if Clary leaves.
S Eric Weddle will become a free agent and needs to be kept on the team unless the Chargers find a replacement in free agency or the draft, which I do not see.
LB Antwan Applewhite became the starter this year, but the Chargers should look to upgrade the starter at this position through the draft or through free agency.
Jacques Cesaire always has his motor running and is good against the run, but this also may be a position the Chargers look to upgrade.
RB Mike Tolbert is a restricted free agent and should be kept. Norv Turner likes to use both Mathews and Tolbert in the running game.
Here is the list of Reverves expected to become free agents:
LB Antwan Barnes
TE Randy McMichael
WR Legedu Naanee
S Paul Oliver
LB Brandon Siler
RB Darren Sproles
DL Travis Johnson
C Scott Mruckowski
QB Billy Volek
TE Kris Wilson
LB James Holt
The reserve players that are entering free agency is headlined by Darren Sproles. The Chargers used the franchise tag on him the last couple of years and is OVERPAID for the services that he provides. He is a crowd favorite that may be seeing his last game as a Charger this weekend, unless he decides to take a HUGE pay cut.
WR Legedu Naanee was supposed to step up this season with increased playing time, but was slowed by injuries. His performance this year may not have been good enough for the Chargers to keep.
Backup QB Billy Volek may look to find a starting position somewhere. He does not have that opportunity with the Chargers and may look to another team for that chance.
LB Antwan Barnes may have played well enough this season to get a contract from the Chargers. He received some playing time this season and showed that he can put pressure on the quarterback.
Here is the rest of the players to become free agents:
Signed Undisclosed Contracts (assuming contract was just for 2010):
C Mike Windt
DB Pat Watkins
WR Kelley Washington
DB Tyrone Carter
DB Dante Hughes
LB Brandon Moore
TE Kory Sperry
DB Quinton Teal
TE James Dearth
DL Ryan Neill
The rest of the players that are becoming free agents were all signed during this season in hopes to fix the special teams.
The biggest name on the list is Kelley Washington, who got the opportunity to play receiver this year and may have played well enough for a shot next season. He can fill in at receiver if needed, but his main contribution is to the special teams.
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