December 16, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews (24) runs for a first down during the second quarter against the Carolina Panther at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Fixing the Chargers Running Game Part 1: Free Agency

December 9, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews (24) carries the ball as Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons (94) defends during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. The San Diego Chargers won 34-24. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Last season the chargers finished 27th in the league in rushing………Twenty Seventh!!!!

Last season we attempted to salvage the loss of Mike Tolbert to the Carolina Panthers, by signing free agents Jackie Battle, Ronnie Brown and LeRon McClain. After witnessing the results and realizing that none of these guys could help carry the load when Ryan Mathews went down, it is clear that the running game of the chargers was sorely overlooked in 2012.

So how can this problem be corrected? I think we have taken the first step in the right direction with the hiring of new offensive line coach Joe D’ Alessandris. Phase two: which free agent RB would be the best addition to this team?

The three biggest names on the market to this point are Reggie Bush, Ahmad Bradshaw and Shonn Greene.

Let’s start with Ahmad Bradshaw. Now I know that Bradshaw’s name got chargers fans buzzing about the possibility of acquiring him this offseason, but this would be a very high risk high reward signing in my opinion. As we have all witnessed in the past few seasons, Bradshaw has been the victim of multiple injuries (Hello Ryan Mathews!!!) and currently his latest foot surgery is expected to keep him out until the end of April. Bradshaw is a battering ram of a running back when healthy and If he can stay in that condition and that’s a big IF, could be a great one/two punch combo.

Next up is Reggie Bush, it doesn’t seem as though he will be making his way back to Miami next season. At 27 years old, Bush is looking for possibly one last big pay day to cash in before his time is finished. Over the last two seasons, Bush rejuvenated his carrier in Miami by totaling over 2,600 yards from scrimmage. He has great playmaking ability in open field, excellent lateral movement, explosiveness off the first step and may be the replacement to spell the sorely missed Darren Sproles.

One other option is Shonn Greene. Despite coming off a back to back 1,000 yard campaign, the Jets are looking for a youth movement at the running back position. Green shouldn’t garner too much attention as a starter on the open market, he does not have the type of home run capability that is worth those dollars anymore. However, Green could cement himself as a short yardage back in a two back scheme.

Finally there is one more prospect that may present himself if he is released. Currently the Carolina Panthers have a salary cap nightmare at their running back position. DeAngelo Williams may be a good signing for this team. I believe he still has some rubber left on the tires and may just need a change of scenery to be re-juvenated. Also, let’s not forget…..he does have some familiarity with our new head coach Mike McCoy from his time as a coordinator in Carolina.

What are your thoughts? If the Chargers brought in a free agent running back, who would you want to bring in?

In part two of this segment, we will talk about how the Chargers can fix the running game through the draft.

By Jake Hefner

#BOLTSOHARD

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