A.J. Smith Era Starting to Diminish


December 2, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews (24) runs onto the field during player introductions prior to the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

After the disposal of Robert Meachem, the terrible signings of AJ Smith is finally starting to dwindle on the Chargers roster. There was no place in San Diego for Jared Gaither, so Tom Telesco took care of it. There was no room on the roster for Robert Meachem, so Tom Telesco took care of it. The Chargers are in the hole for $8.875 million between the two above mentioned players in 2013 and an additional $7.75 million in 2014. That’s over $16.5 million dollars of wasted cash that could have gone to quality, proven athletes. There are still a few remaining players from Smith’s drafts and signings that will need to step up big or could be eliminated from our future plans. Below are a few question mark players going forward:

Larry English – I don’t understand how English survived the roster cut yet again for his 5th and hopefully final season as a Charger. In pre-season, Thomas Keiser turned in 9 tackles and 2.5 sacks compared to English’s 2 tackles yet he still managed to make the team. There must be something everyone in the world doesn’t know that only Chargers management and coaches see. Quite possibly the two million dollar cap hit would be the only logical explanation for English to remain on board.

LeRon McClain – The second highest paid fullback in the NFL. Is he really valued as the second best fullback in the NFL? There may not be a fullback of necessity in the market after Chris Gronkowski’s injury. If McClain continues to play poorly throughout 2013, releasing him the following season should have no impact to the salary cap. McClain is owed $3.33 million next season, but if he cannot prove he’s earned his keep by playing to that caliber this season, he maybe searching for a new team soon.

Eddie Royal – Royal is owed $4.5 million this season of which $3 million would have been dead money if released. In 2014, Royal will be owed $6 million with no effect to the salary cap. Royal has a tendency to work hard during pre-season and falter during the regular season, as an example, in 2012, Royal turned in 234 yards on 23 catches. Royal was once a worthy punt and kick returner, amassing 1,829 his rookie season followed by 1,302 and 1,093 yards in subsequent seasons. Last year, and first season as a Charger, Royal recorded 320 yards. Richard Goodman is gone, this is Royal’s chance to prove he still has what it takes.

Ryan Matthews – Matthews has already achieved pro-bowl status and exceeded a 1,000 yard rushing season. Now entering his 4th season as the primary ball carrier, its time for Matthews to remain healthy and avoid being mentioned among the names in the Smith bust category. During Matthews’ first two season, he fumbled the ball a total ten times, but only coughed up the ball twice last season. In exchange, Matthews hardly ran the ball as effectively as he did his rookie and sophomore seasons. If Matthews can take all the good he’s learned over the years, absorb the McCoy, Wiz offense, not be “complacent,” he may make this season his coming out party!

Smith drafted well early in his tenured in San Diego, but the drafts got worse and worse as he grew more and more arrogant and stubborn. Give credit where credit is due, Smith was the one that drafted guys like Donald Butler, Eric Weddle and Corey Liuget. Keeping these stars is a must for Telesco. Regardless of how much wasted money is lingering from the Smith era it’s time to move forward and embrace a new system of thinking and a vision of winning!