Dec 18, 2011; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson (83) during the second half against the Baltimore Ravens at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE

NFL Free Agency Grades: Chargers Edition

Free agency period is far from over, but the bulk of our work has been done. There still are holes for us to fill, but let’s review what we have done so far.

To open up free agency, Vincent Jackson found that the crap team of Tampa would be a better suitor for him. Mainly, they were able to give him the dough that he was asking for, so it was an easy call for him to make. That was a depressing way to open up free agency, but the guys at the top had their gameplan ready and they put it into action in a hurry.

Before free agency started, they were able to bring back C Nick Hardwick. That move was huge to get some consistency on the front line and for Philip Rivers. After losing VJ, we jumped all over New Orleans WR Robert Meachem and stole him from the Buffalo Bills. Meachem will add a different element to the offense: SPEED! His ability to stretch the field will open up the underneath routes for Antonio Gates and Ryan Mathews to make some big plays.

After bringing in Meachem, the Chargers were able to secure the offensive line with the signing of LT Jared Gaither. With the release of Marcus McNeill, we needed to get this signing done OR we would have to face the possibilities of starting Brandyn Dombrowski on the left side or wasting our top draft pick on a tackle.

After Gaither, we brought in a REAL fullback to mash up some defenders. Le’Ron McClain was brought in to lead the way for Ryan Mathews and to bust open some holes. McClain brings toughness to the offense and will give the running game an edge. He will be looking for people to blow up all game long and it should be fun to watch.

Then, we finally made a move on the defensive side of the ball bringing in Baltimore Ravens LB Jarret Johnson. The Johnson move will go under the radar, because he is not a big name, but he brings more toughness to the team. We have been called SOFT for a number of years, but the addition of McClain and Johnson will help change that reputation. Johnson is not the pass rushing threat that we need, but he will help slow down the running game and will also be able to help in pass coverage. He will make a lot of things happen on defense!

After bringing in Johnson, we shifted our focus back on the offense and with field position on special teams. We were able to steal another player that was making a visit out on another team…and this one was Royalty! We were able to woo Eddie Royal over from the Denver Broncos, while the Washington Redskins were trying to get him signed. Royal will be huge in the punt return game and getting the offense in good field position. He will also be able to add speed on offense as a 3rd option and will add depth for when Malcom Floyd lands funny.

There is still work to do. There were other players that were signed for depth, but are not expected to make a major impact. Randy McMichael was a big person to bring back and the Bolts also signed SS Atari Bigby. Bigby will likely just be depth in the secondary and will try to push Darrell Stuckey or a rookie that we choose in the draft.

A lot of attention has been paid to the offensive side of the ball, but our biggest needs were on defense. We needed to find a pass rusher and we have holes on our defensive line and in our secondary and none of those needs have been addressed. Antonio Garay would be a good player to bring back for a couple more seasons to put in a rotation with Cam Thomas. Bringing back Luis Castillo or Tommie Harris or both would also be nice for the depth on the defensive line. It would nice to bring in a corner, but we still need a starting strong safety. The pass rusher and the safety will likely be found in the draft, but all the depth still needs to be brought in. The start of free agency has been nice, but we still have a lot more work to do. At this point in the off-season, I will give them a grade of a B and still want to see what we do with depth on defense and what we do in the draft.

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