Avery Williamson could be Chargers’ ‘splash’ free-agent signing


Los Angeles Chargers general manager Tom Telesco is not big on splurging on the free-agent market, throwing around big contracts for players he hopes will live up to expectations. Instead, he prefers to let things play out a little before making a calculated move.

Last year, the team’s “big” free-agent signing came in the form of offensive tackle Russell Okung, a player the Denver Broncos literally gave up on after just one season. That is all the more telling due to the fact that Denver has had one of the worst offensive lines in the league in recent years.

Okung came in and played well for the Chargers, helping the team cut down on the number of sacks it allowed from 36 in 2016 down to just 18 last season, which was tops in the NFL. Okung was also selected to the Pro Bowl.

So, if Telesco tabs Avery Williamson his big free-agent signing in a couple of weeks, that’s going to work out beautifully for the team, right?

If you asked yourself, who is Avery Williamson, don’t feel too bad. He’s a linebacker who has flown under the radar since being selected in the fifth round of the 2014 draft by the Tennessee Titans. However, he could be one of the best values on the entire market right now.

In four seasons, he’s put together an impressive body of work that has included at least 92 tackles in each of the last three seasons. He also has 11.5 sacks and two interceptions for his career while being extremely durable, playing in 63 of a possible 64 regular season games.

Another 26-year-old who should get a lot of action: Titans LB Avery Williamson. Dynamic in the run game and improving against the pass

— Pete Prisco (@PriscoCBS) February 13, 2018

He fills a need in Los Angeles. The Chargers could use help at inside linebacker, particularly if there are no plans to re-sign Korey Toomer. He is an excellent tackler with some pass-coverage ability. Plus, the move would make sense as it would allow the team to focus on selecting a defensive tackle in the first round of the NFL draft as that position has more to offer than the inside linebacker spot this year.

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Also, if Telesco thinks Williamson is a good fit for the Chargers, he’s not alone, as NFL.com’s Marc Sessler was thinking along those lines last week.

The problem is, he won’t come cheap. Using the projected market value tool provided by Spotrac, Williamson is estimated to be able to fetch a four-year contract in the neighborhood of $36 million, or about $9 million annually.

That would actually be less than the four-year, $53 million deal the team gave Okung last offseason.

Williamson will be just 26 years old when the season opens and putting him with Denzel Perryman at the linebacker position is a tantalizing thought.

It’s a thought Telesco should consider and even if he plans to only make one big move in free agency, similar to what he did last year, this would be a terrific move to make.