First ever NFL veteran free agent combine could benefit Chargers


Nov 9, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; Detailed view of a Salute to Service military appreciation logo on an official Wilson football during the NFL game between the St. Louis Rams against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Rams 31-14. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

For teams like the Chargers that need to find free agent impact and depth players, this year could prove to be a harvest. Due to the “inefficiency” of the current free agency structure, the NFL is trying something new this year. For the first time ever, on March 22nd the NFL will hold an official veteran free agent combine in Arizona. In years past, some NFL veteran free agents were able to show up and perform at regional combines, but never had a dedicated event for themselves. Players who have fallen through the cracks or have taken time to transition into NFL form will now get a chance to showcase their skills.

For the 100 free agent applicants selected, they will perform for personnel and scouts from all 32 organizations. This means the Bolts should show up with their clipboards ready. When asked about the importance of keeping the team young, here is GM Tom Telesco’s response.

“I don’t get worried about the average age of your roster,” Telesco said. “I don’t think that works. We probably had seven or eight prominent players on our roster that are over 30. But for me, No. 1, those are the guys that have really built this foundation for us. And we couldn’t have done it without those guys. So that’s key.And secondly, a lot of our backups are younger players that are developing. We don’t have a lot of older backup players. So there’s an old adage — never let a position group grow old together. I think we’re OK there. We do like to monitor it, but we didn’t have a huge issue with the age of our roster this year. It will naturally get younger because we’ve got some guys getting toward the end of their contracts this year.”

Bottom Line : He’s right. We do have great developing young players in Jason Verrett, Jerry Attaochu, Manti Te’o, Branden Oliver, and Chris Watt. We also currently have 14 players over the age of 30. However, considering Tom Telesco doesn’t believe age to be a factor in signing players, this could be a cost-efficient way to stockpile bodies for camp. Don’t expect high dollar free agents to participate in the showcase, but for the underrated free agents this could be their last real shot to make an impact. This event will take place after the NFL scouting combine and before the NFL draft, so teams can weigh the options of free agency versus investing a draft pick.

Feb 23, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; USC Trojans wide receiver Marqise Lee participates in a pass catching drill during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports