The San Diego Chargers are coming off a big win against the divisional rival Denver Broncos. Thanks to the Kansas City Chiefs defeating the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, the Chargers are only two games out of first place, which gives both the team and fans hope.
But can the San Diego Chargers really compete and make some noise this year? The AFC is wide open thanks to the injury of Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger. Besides the New England Patriots, there does not appear to be another dominant team that is a shoe-in to make the playoffs. If the Chargers are serious about getting back to the playoffs and staying in the city of San Diego, then they are going to need to make a drastic move in order to prove to the players and fans they are all in.
The NFL trade deadline falls on Nov. 1 at 4 p.m. The Cleveland Browns are the only apparent team that are confirmed sellers. The most popular name that often comes up is left tackle Joe Thomas. Wouldn’t it be great if San Diego traded for… sorry Chargers fans, that isn’t happening. The Browns are looking for a king’s ransom for the All-Pro tackle, and that usually means a first-rounder partnered up with another mid-round selection.
That price is too rich for a San Diego team that has too many holes to address. However, there is a player on the Browns roster that can make an immediate impact for the Chargers this year and many years to come.
Sep 13, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers cornerback Jason Verrett (22) walks off the field after the game against the Detroit Lions at Qualcomm Stadium. San Diego won 33-28. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
The catastrophic, season-ending injury to Jason Verrett has forced San Diego to start a cornerback who is still raw and frankly not good (Craig Mager) and another cornerback that they cut earlier this year because he failed to live up to expectations (Steve Williams). If only there was a player available at the deadline who could improve their depth in the secondary to compliment the upgraded pass rush (thank you Mr. Bosa).
Meet Joe Haden. Haden has been considered a top cornerback in the NFL ever since he stepped onto the scene in 2010. He is a physical cornerback who has done a great job over the years of locking down the opposing team’s top wide out, week in and week out. Haden has been the sole bright spot of a Cleveland Browns’ defense that has been nothing short of horrid over the years. That being said, Haden has been hampered by injuries the last year and a half. He missed 11 games in 2015 due to a concussion and has already missed two games this year because of a groin injury.
Haden would be a risk, but he would be a calculated risk that the Chargers need to look into. Haden is only 27 years old and is still in the prime of his career. Adding Haden to a secondary that already includes Brandon Flowers and Casey Hayward would ease the pressure of the Chargers’ subpar safeties.
Sep 20, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden (23) breaks up a pass intended for Tennessee Titans wide receiver Harry Douglas (83) during the second quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
As for the numbers, Haden’s cap number is about $10 million this year and $11 million next year, per per Spotrac.com. San Diego would have to do some creative accounting to accommodate the All-Pro corner this year. However, next year would be much easier. Flowers turns 31 for the 2017 NFL season. In addition, Jason Verrett is expected to make a full recovery for next year. So it would be easy for the Chargers to part ways with the nine-year pro (Flowers) to make room for a younger, better cornerback (Haden).
What would the Browns look in return for their star cornerback? The Browns covet draft picks. Mentioned earlier, Haden has had some injury concerns over the last 18 months along with a slight dip in play. So in an effort to shed some cap and get more players, it is fair to say the Browns could most likely accept a 2017 fourth-round pick and a 2018 late-round pick. Think that is far-fetched? Look no further to the Brandon Marshall trade, where the Jets sent a fifth-round pick in return for Marshall and a seventh-rounder.
And let’s face it, Chargers GM Tom Telesco hates fourth-round selections. So let’s hear from some Chargers fans. Should the Bolts send over some picks to improve their secondary? Or is there another player they need to look into? Or should San Diego just stay put and let it ride?