By James Fedewa
Outside Linebacker Melvin Ingram tore his ACL suspending his sophomore season before it even began. Typical ACL injuries can take a full year to recover, but with current medical technology, recovery time can be as fast as 8 months. Either way, Melvin Ingram is done for the season and now San Diego has additional big problems at several key positions. Lacking authentic starters, like left tackle, strong safety and now right outside linebacker.
Next man up; former first round draft pick Larry English is now a full time starter. English is currently San Diego’s primary and premier pass rusher, which does not exactly strike fear into most opposing left tackles and quarterbacks. The position will not be given to English, he will have to earn the job, but with Melvin Ingram gone (as well as Shaun Phillips and Antwan Barnes from last season) San Diego outside pass rushers are very thin, if not transparent. The 27 year old English has all the talent in the world to be a big time play-maker, he has not done it yet in his brief 4 year career.
English will be given the opportunity to succeed, but a veteran may be brought in to provide depth, or even a starting job. Veterans Dwight Freeney, John Abraham or a Matt Roth are some veterans that could be brought in. San Diego currently has three rookie outside linebackers on the team and all might be forced into action immediately. 6th round draft pick Tourek Williams, and two undrafted rookie free agents Frank Beltre and Devan Walker all can make 53 man roster, and having three rookies at the same position on the same team is not considered a luxury.
Additional personnel cuts might be necessary to sign Dwight Freeney to free up salary cap space. WR Eddie Royal could be released and the Jeromey Clary experiment (to RG) might have to end prematurely. Plus, Royal and Clary’s replacements were just drafted last month (Keenan Allan and DJ Fluker) and cutting them both could create just under $4 million dollars in additional salary cap space, but would also create over $6 million in dead money.
Landing a pass rusher like Dwight Freeney could cost San Diego $3 to 5 million per year (with bonus and quite possibly a multiple year contract). Freeney would look really good rushing former teammate Payton Manning twice a year against the Denver Broncos. But he could also insure himself practicing everyday against current San Diego left tackle King Dunlap. Freeney is needed.