After over three months of lockout rhetoric, The Greg One is finally drinking the kool-aid. By this time next week the lockout will be over and the intrepid staff writers here at the Beat will be busy writing actual team news! How’s that for a change of pace?! There were too many very intelligent men on both sides of the negotiating table to screw this up. The NFL is the goose sitting on the golden egg and losing games would tarnish that egg instead of creating more. The owners and players are pulling a Brett Favre and waiting until the last minute to shake hands and come back. For the teams, no OTA’s, fewer two-a-days due to the reduced time they have to get everyone, especially the impact rookies, up to speed and for the veterans it means less damage to their bodies before the season starts. The season’s opening weekend is the weekend of September 11, commemorating the tenth anniversary of that fateful day. With all that has gone on in the US and the world since and the Navy SEALS elimination of Bin Laden, how can you not get this deal done so we can all celebrate with our favorite sporting pastime? The owners know every seat in every stadium will be filled that weekend and for weeks thereafter as long as we don’t miss any regular season games. That sunday will be a second Fourth of July and don’t think there will be any shortage of flag vendors and red, white and blue themed team merchandise stands at your local stadium. Its a day we can celebrate with one voice without being judged on whether its right or wrong. This country was founded on capitalism and the owners will capitalize on the opportunity. We all deserve it. Land of the free and home of the brave.
With the light at the end of the tunnel so bright, The Greg One can finally roll out his wishlist for when free agency finally begins. Make no mistake, it will begin the minute after we see Commissioner Roger Goodell and players union chief DeMaurice Smith smiling and shaking hands on Sportscenter. In order of importance, here is what I would like to see the Chargers do when the lockout ends:
1. Franchise Vincent Jackson and give him a long term deal. Sure, the man is a diva and has been a headache for management but what team doesn’t have a diva wide receiver who is a pain? VJ will be healthy and ready to play from week one which will make Philip Rivers ecstatic. Even if the Chargers trade him, they will get an impact player in return. VJ for Sidney Rice perhaps? Even if the Chargers did nothing else for the offense having VJ locked in ensures he, Gates, and Matthews will hit the ground running and there is a nice arsenal of receivers like Crayton, Floyd and Ajirotutu coming off the bench. Locking up VJ ensures Rivers, Gates and Jackson will be San Diego’s version of the ‘triplets’ and we’ll see the Chargers in the Super Bowl SOON.
2. Sign Steve Smith. We all know there will be a lot done to improve the offense aside from Jackson and there is mutual interest on both sides so why not? Smith is a multi-time Pro Bowl wide receiver with Super Bowl experience. Smith is tired of losing and playing with inept quarterback talent. Smith has been injured often but its not for lack of trying. He broke his leg in a season opener in 2004 and broke his arm on a touchdown catch in 2009. Smith goes all out despite how good his team is (or isn’t). He’s a deep threat who has five seasons over 1000 yards receiving despite being the only receiving threat on his team. In San Diego, he could become the Pro Bowl Steve Smith. At only 5’9 he doesn’t fit the size requirements the Chargers prefer but consider this, Smith led the NFL in yards(1563), touchdowns(12) and receptions(103) in 2005. Smith wants to be here and has said so in the press so lets get it done.
3. Put the full-court press on Nnamdi Asomugha. We already have the number one defense in the league and just added former Colts safety Bob Sanders to the mix before the lockout. Imagine if we could get Nnamdi to come down the coast and play in the blue and gold. We all hate the Raiders and the worst thing that could happen is seeing one of ours go to the black hole. Go anywhere, just not Oakland. However, a Raider coming here like Asomugha will forgive everything as he locks down his side of the field and the Chargers would have an absolutely unstoppable defense as well as a scoreboard breaking offense. Why wouldn’t he want to come here? He would get to blend in and be another cog in an already formidable defensive machine instead of the only cog on his former team. Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky and AJ Smith should in a limo to Asomugha’s home within the minute the NFL’s open sign turns on. A lot of teams will be after Asomugha but they still need to go make their pitch.
4. Sign Corey Liguet. Number one pick needs to be in the building on day one. Enough said.
5. Open the checkbook. There is great talent on defense out there to be had and its going to take some dollars to get them here. The Chargers can go from being constant underachievers to legitimate title favorites if they blow the dust off the checkbook and add depth to the offense and defense. Sanders was a great first step. Now, how about looking up defensive specialists like Green Bay’s Nick Barnett and Cullen Jenkins, Minnesota’s Ray Edwards, Pittsburgh Lamar Woodley and Ike Taylor, San Francisco’s Travis LaBoy or Kansas City’s Tamba Hali just to get the ball rolling? On offense, Plaxico Burress, Miami’s Ronnie Brown, Steve Smith of New York Giants, Tiki Barber (as a veteran backup who catches well out of the backfield), Carolina’s DeAngelo Williams, New England’s offensive linemen Matt Light and Logan Mankins could add a lot to an already awesome offense. This team could be a couple names away from developing a Super Bowl dynasty similar to Dallas and San Francisco in the 80′s and 90′s or more recently, New England.
Lastly, the Chargers need to take care of their own. Malcolm Floyd has earned his spot. Legedu Naanee, Patrick Crayton, Kevin Burnett, Jacques Cesaire, Stephen Cooper and Eric Weddle deserve to stay based on their performance and their ability to add depth to their positions. Kelley Washington was turning into a great slot receiver until he was injured. On the flip side, they have to know who to put on notice. In my opinion Larry English, Antoine Cason, Antwan Applewhite, Quentin Jammer, Paul Oliver and Nate Kaeding need to step their game up or be replaced. This is where management will earn their pay as this will be a boom or bust season for the Chargers. Coming on the heels of the lockout, more of the onus can be put squarely on the shoulders of the front office than ever before. We’ll all be anxiously waiting for the season to open within the next seven days.
What’s on your wishlist Bolt Beat?