Free Safety is obviously the only position the Chargers have set in the secondary. Luckily, there are plenty of free agent defensive backs that could be in the Chargers’ price range. I know the consensus for the Chargers is to draft a corner with the 1st round pick. That could still be a good move if one of the top 3 corners is available at #25. but, corners notoriously take a long time to acclimate to the NFL, and we need corner help NOW.
Jahleel Addae played admirably this season after replacing Marcus Gilchrist at the strong safety spot. But, Addae is limited in his ability and while he is a high energy tackler, he doesn’t make the right play as consistently as we need a strong safety to in the run game. The Chargers defense needs an enforcer so Weddle is free to roam the entire field.
Brent Grimes: 5’10”, 190 lbs., 30 YO
Grimes is the top free agent corner available. He bounced back very well from an ACL injury and returned to top form. He signed to a small, 1-year deal with the Dolphins last season to prove he could still play, and guess what, he can. Grimes is already 30, so that may work against him, and possibly to the Chargers’ advantage.
Captain Munnerlyn: 5’8″, 195 lbs., 25 YO
Munnerlyn is only 5’8″, but he plays like a 7 footer. He is an absolute beast everywhere on the field. He plays aggressive on the outside and on the line of scrimmage. Captain also showed a great ability to rush off the edge for the Panthers. He is very dangerous with the ball in his hands. He took 5 of his 7 career interceptions all the way back for touchdowns. Munnerlyn has all the skill and quickness needed to be a star on the outside, but the size issue will follow him for his entire career, and the Chargers may be able to get an All-Pro caliber guy for less than what he is worth.
Aqib Talib: 6’1″, 205 lbs., 27 YO
Talib is a trouble maker, but when he feels like playing he is a legit #1 corner in the NFL. Unlike Munnerlyn, Talib has the size to defend elite receivers anywhere on the field. He is just so inconsistent. Not because of injuries, but just for lack of trying. Depending on how the rest of the league feels about his antics, he could be available for far less than market value. Even in an average year for the Patriots, he picked off 4 passes in only 13 games.
Alterraun Verner: 5’10”, 187 lbs., 25 YO
Verner is a ballhawking corner for the Titans. He had a great 2013 season picking off 5 passes and defending 23. Verner can play on the outside but is quick enough and big enough to move inside in the nickle. Verner could be exactly what the Chargers need to add a legitimate turnover threat on the outside. He isn’t exactly a shutdown corner, but would be a great addition to the Chargers secondary, and would probably become the #1 corner until we add a real shutdown guy.
Brandon Browner: 6’4″, 220 lbs., 29 YO
For some reason, I just really like the way Pete Carroll puts together a secondary. Big, strong, fast, tall corners that just bully opposing receivers at the line. The Chargers need some of that tenacity instead of giving opponents 20 yards of cushion on every play. Browner only played in 8 games this year due to injury and still faces a suspension for violating the NFL substance abuse policy. Even though Browner is 29, he has only been in the NFL for 3 years and still has plenty of gas left in the tank. The Chargers could get him on the cheap end on a short deal if Seattle elects to move in a different direction.
TJ Ward: 5’10”, 200 lbs., 27 YO
TJ Ward is amazing in run support, posting 112 total tackles on the year. He is a big hitter in the open field and can burst through the line with ease. He can even make plays in pass defense, picking off 2 passes and deflecting 6 in 2013. But, let me clarify, he is a BIG hitter. He is the one that knocked Gronk out with a torn ACL (to be clear: I do not condone hurting other players, but at least he didn’t accidentally hurt his own teammate.)
Donte Whitner: 5’10”, 208 lbs, 28 YO
Whitner is a big, strong safety that does most of his work by knocking receivers off their route and scaring them from going over the middle. He has been in the NFL for 8 years now, but is still only 28 and definitely has a few years left in the tank. The 49ers are trying to get younger in the secondary and may be willing to let him walk. The Chargers need that enforcer on defense badly, and Whitner would add that winning pedigree to the secondary that DJ Fluker added to the offensive line this season.
Major Wright: 5’11”, 204 lbs., 25 YO
Major Wright is not quite the big strong safety that Whitner or Ward are. Wright is more of a coverage safety that cannot seem to pick off a pass. Wright has also improved drastically in run support. Even in a bad year in 2013, Wright finished 2nd on the Bears in tackles (100), picked off 2 passes and forced 2 fumbles. He was also plagued with neck injuries all year. Wright could be available for a short “prove it” contract to show that his breakout year in 2012 was not a fluke. Wright has star potential if he can put it together and could move the Chargers a few steps closer to fixing the secondary.