The following series of posts will evaluate the positional groups from which major Chargers’ players may be leaving and those left to replace them. The first group we’ll look at deals with the departure of one of the league’s best defensive players.
Obviously the bridges burned between Eric Weddle and the Chargers have been well-documented, and we can mostly agree there isn’t a likely scenario in which he returns. So, how do the Chargers fill the void in the defensive backfield?
Jahleel Addae will most likely return at the opposite safety spot; management loves his hard-hitting ability, and he is a vocal leader on defense. However, Addae often takes poor tackling angles, lacks outstanding effort, and has a tendency to overuse his hands in coverage. That leaves Weddle’s spot open to Matt Daniels, Adrian Phillips, Brandian Ross and Darrell Stuckey. Daniels and Ross are practice squad players at best, and certainly unfit to take over, barring huge injuries. Stuckey is too great a weapon on special teams to risk injury playing that many defensive snaps. That leaves us with Phillips.
Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Adrian was born in Dallas, where he earned honors in both football and track and field in high school. He attended the University of Texas where he played defensive back and was named a team captain his senior year. After going undrafted in the 2014 draft he was signed to the Chargers practice squad. Due to injuries that year he saw action in games at Miami, vs. Oakland, and vs. St. Louis. On the year he recorded one tackle and one pass defended. This past season he again bounced on and off the practice squad, but saw time in 9 games, including his first career start at home against Oakland. In those games he recorded 19 total tackles, and intercepted Brock Osweiler during the Bronco’s turnover-filled first half of the season finale. Phillips progressed greatly in his second year under John Pagano, and his third year will be a true test of whether or not he can make it in the NFL. As we all know the Chargers have a rich history of undrafted talent, I’m just not ready to believe Phillips is the next man in that line.
If the team drafts a DB in the later rounds, or signs a cheap, unproven player, Phillips could compete for the starting job. However, Eric Weddle should’ve taught the Chargers a lesson in the importance of a great safety: in the 3 games he did not play in, the defense allowed an average of 31 points, and over 300 yards passing. It would be best for the Chargers to spend an early draft pick on a safety like Jalen Ramsey out of FSU, or consider signing a player like Husain Abdullah or Tashaun Gipson to man the secondary.