We found out Monday that Dwight Freeney will likely be out for the season with a torn quadriceps. Its sad to see him go down after he was having such a great year, even if he wasn’t blowing up the stat sheet.
The Chargers brass need to start shopping for replacements, but TT isn’t going to find a more talented free agent pass rusher at this stage in the season. Luckily (read: looking at the silver lining), there are better free agents at other positions and the Chargers could use help all across the defense to replace the impact of Freeney. This is my list of free agents that could instantly improve the defense:
10. Jordan Babineaux, SS, 30, 6’0″, 210
Babineaux has always struggled against the pass and would not be a huge improvement over Marcus Gilchrist in that respect. However, Babineaux can still play well in the box and he could relieve some pressure on Eric Weddle to play in the box on every. single. down.
9. Mark Anderson, OLB, 30, 6’4″, 255
Anderson is a skilled situational pass rusher coming off a knee injury. He could be worth the risk, however, as he has shown flashes of dominance with a 10 sack season in 2011 with the Patriots, and a 12 sack season his rookie year in 2006 with the Bears.
8. Jason Allen, CB, 30, 6’1″, 200
Jason Allen is a long, strong corner with playmaking ability. With Shareece Wright still out and Richard Marshall as incompetent as ever, the Chargers need some help on the outside. He has 15 picks and 34 defended passes in his career and can also play safety.
7. Chris Gocong, OLB, 29, 6’2″, 263
Gocong spent the past year on IR with a ruptured Achilles. Dwight Freeney’s biggest impact this year has been his quickness off the line. Gocong has the same ability to break down O-lines with quickness. He had 3 sacks and 5.5 stuffs the year before he got hurt, and could replace Freeney as our 3rd down pass rusher.
6. Eric Smith, SS, 30, 6’1″, 207
Eric Smith is a hard-hitting safety with good instincts and aggression in the box. He was never very skilled in coverage and is likely worse after an MCL injury last year. Smith is still the enforcer the Chargers need to strike fear into receivers crossing the middle.
5. Jacob Lacey, CB, 26, 5’10″, 183
Jacob Lacey was a 3 year starter for the Colts before playing last season in Detroit. He shows agility in nickel situations and also likes to play physical, despite his size. Perhaps most important, he knows when to stop backpedalling and start running with receivers. Cough. Derek Cox. Cough.
4. Ma’ake Kemoeatu, NT, 34, 6’5″, 345
Kemoeatu was able to lose over 70 pounds last year to take the Ravens’ starting NT job during their Super Bowl season. He started 13 games during the season and made an impact with 1 sack and 1 forced fumble. He would bring a Super Bowl pedigree.
Dunbar had a huge year for the Rams last season. Not only did he total 114 tackles, 4.5 sacks, and 2 interceptions, Dunbar was the emotional leader of a successful and young Rams defense. Without him, the Rams defense has been just plain horrible. He was serving a 4 game suspension for the leagues substance abuse policy the past 4 games. Dunbar could be a steal if he remains productive after his suspension.
2. Casey Hampton, NT, 35, 6’1″, 325
Hampton is old. But, he still has the experience, insane strength, and tenacity only an ex-Steeler could exhibit. He would be an upgrade on the defensive line and give Kendall Reyes and Corey Liuget a great mentor along the line. Cam Thomas has simply not been able to occupy blockers and the run defense and pass rush has suffered.
1. Kerry Rhodes, FS, 31, 6’3″, 212
Kerry Rhodes was one of the best safeties in the league last year. The true reason he is still a free agent is unknown, but there is no denying Rhodes would improve this defense. If DC John Pagano insists on keeping Weddle in the box, at least he would do so knowing he had an All-Pro caliber safety defending the deep ball. Plus, Rhodes could end up playing SS in the box and allow Weddle to fall back into center field. Rhodes played under Chargers OC Ken Whisenhunt in Arizona this past season.
Comment below about what free agent you think would have the biggest impact on the Chargers defense.