All NFL front offices must ask themselves two questions before adding a player to the roster: What’s his role? And what can the team gain from this acquisition?
These types of questions often tugged at a GM, especially after a key player is loss for a significant amount of time due to an injury.
You have to believe Chargers GM Tom Telesco spent some late nights inside his office going over his head whether or not to add a veteran wide receiver to the roster after losing Stevie Johnson (hamstring) and Malcom Floyd (concussion) to injuries last weekend. Every possible solution available could jeopardize the team’s salary cap structure and long-term plans.
Neither Johnson nor Floyd are expected to play against the Pittsburgh Steelers this week, so adding experience would have brought a sigh of relief to all heading to the Qualcomm Stadium on Monday night. Instead, the Chargers chose to stand pat and welcome Antonio Gates back into the fold.
Telesco’s cautious approach isn’t a sign of hesitation, but rather after surveying the field, the type of production he looking for wasn’t available at this time. Let’s not kid ourselves; any free agent that hasn’t been signed at this point in the season isn’t drawing much interest from other NFL franchises. Diminishing skills is usually the chief culprit to why they’re collecting dust on the open market.
It’s hard to win in the NFL without a balanced offensive attack, but it’s even harder to be successful without a consistent passing game that stretches the defense downfield. The Chargers’ goal this week is to run the football in a ground-and-pound mentality, as this should open some passing lanes for Philip Rivers to throw the football.
You can expect to see multiple two-or-three tight end sets on Monday night because there’s no better deep and short-yard receiving threats on the roster than Gates and Ladarius Green. Their size, speed and strength will give trouble to any defense trying to stuff them at the line of scrimmage.
If Telesco was going to add a veteran wideout to the roster, he wanted make sure the player was going to make a contribution in moving the offense forward. During his term as Chargers GM, Telesco has shown the propensity to trust younger, more athletic players over aging vets in backup roles. You hope this approach doesn’t blow up in his face, as changing a role can be overwhelming at times.
Inexperience could become the Chargers biggest opponent for the remainder of the season.