Chargers summer storylines: Jason Verrett will have to earn his keep
By Travis Wakeman
Jason Verrett, a former first-round pick of the Los Angeles Chargers, had a solid rookie season before making the Pro Bowl in his second year. It looked like he was well on his way to a stellar pro career, but injuries have at least temporarily derailed those thoughts.
In an unforgiving league that screams “what have you done for me lately”?, Verrett hasn’t done much, quite frankly. Here’s a scary stat. Since entering the league in 2014, Verrett has been eligible to play in 64 games. He’s played in just 25.
That won’t get it done. A pair of knee injuries have cost him most of the last two seasons and as a result, he’ll be fighting for his professional career this summer.
During his Pro Bowl campaign in 2015, Verrett notched 47 tackles and had three interceptions with 12 passes defensed. In the two years since that, he has a total of 14 tackles, one interception and three passes defensed.
Torn ACL’s are career-altering injuries. The fact that he came back from one last season and went down with another knee injury in the season opener last year is alarming.
But as Eric D. Williams of ESPN noted, the team is still looking for Verrett to help them out. Whether he can still do that or not is the question.
But if he can’t, the Chargers will be fine. Verrett’s absence allowed for Trevor Williams to step up last year. The team also has second-year defensive back Desmond King, who looked terrific as a rookie. Without Verrett last season, the Chargers allowed just one receiver (Amari Cooper) to have more than 100 yards against them all of last season.
With the addition of Derwin James in the secondary, the team’s passing defense is only going to get better.
So maybe the better question is, does the team even need Verrett?
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The team chose to pick up his fifth-year option, so the Chargers still believe in the young man. Will he make the 53-man roster this summer? More than likely, but there is simply no way he should get a free pass.
Verrett will have to go out and prove that he can still hang with wide receivers on the outside. He’ll have to show that he hasn’t lost a step and most importantly, he’ll have to prove he can stay on the field.
Availability is the best ability.
The team should plan to ease Verrett back into the rotation this summer and see what kind of workload he can handle. Anyone who thinks he’ll come back and immediately be one of the team’s starting corners is likely sorely mistaken.
Casey Hayward has one of those spots locked down and Williams will be out to prove he’s a better option for the team than the oft-injured Verrett.