With the NFL free-agent signing period fast approaching, teams are lining up to bid on the players they hope to bring in. San Diego Chargers general manager Tom Telesco was somewhat frugal in spending on last year’s open market, aside from bringing in guard Orlando Franklin, but he may need to be a little more aggressive this year.
According to Overthecap.com, the Chargers currently have about $31.7 million in available cap space. That gives the team some room to not only retain key free agents such as Antonio Gates and Patrick Robinson, but also to go and find some new players to help improve a squad that went 4-12 last season.
One player the team likely won’t be able to retain is safety Eric Weddle. Despite spending his entire nine-year career in San Diego, a divorce between he and the team has seemed imminent for months. With that said, the team needs to go out and find a new safety, and possibly two.
One player the team could splurge on is safety Reggie Nelson.
Nelson, who has spent the last six seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, could be looking for a big pay day after perhaps his best season in the league. The Bengals will likely make a play to keep Nelson, but the Chargers could probably offer more money.
Nelson was tied for the league lead with eight interceptions in 2015. He added 77 tackles, 14 passes defensed and two fumble recoveries which all led to his first selection to the Pro Bowl.
After Weddle, Nelson will be one of the most desirable safeties on the market this year. He’ll obviously be looking for the best deal financially, but Cincinnati will be able to help convince him with familiarity and the fact that it is much closer to a championship than San Diego is at the moment. The Bengals also have more cap room—$38.7 million—so wrestling Nelson away could prove difficult.
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Telesco and his staff could also decide that Nelson’s eight interceptions last year just aren’t that impressive. Tashaun Gipson and Rodney McLeod could also be options at the safety position.
One thing is for sure, the Chargers need to bring one of these players in.
Weddle is one of the best defensive players in team history. His 850 career tackles and 19 career interceptions speak to that fact. He won’t be an easy player to replace, but doing so should be among Telesco’s top priorities.