Between now and March 13, the start of the 2019 league year, we will be discussing each of the Los Angeles Chargers’ unrestricted free agents, and whether or not the team should bring them back.
First up on the list is veteran defensive tackle Brandon Mebane.
Mebane will be entering his 13th NFL season next year. He recently turned 34 years old and has had a tough personal tragedy to deal with. Though retirement hasn’t been mentioned in connection with Mebane, that option has to be on the table.
After playing out his three-year contract with the Chargers, it remains to be seen what is next for him.
In three seasons with the team, Mebane has registered 91 tackles and two sacks. But the reason he was brought in was for his veteran leadership and to toughen up the defensive line, particularly against the run.
The Chargers actually ranked in the top 10 against the run this past season, giving up 105.8 yards per game on the ground. However, Mebane appeared in just 11 regular season games and in the games he didn’t play in, the Chargers gave up just 87.4 yards rushing.
He then missed the team’s Wild Card game against the Baltimore Ravens in which the Bolts contained the Ravens’ vaunted rushing attack to just 90 yards. The following week against the New England Patriots, in which Mebane was in the lineup, the Pats ran wild, racking up 155 yards rushing.
We can call it a coincidence, but at least from a statistical standpoint, the Chargers seemed to be better against the run without Mebane.
Complicating matters for the Chargers in a decision regarding Mebane is the fact that both Darius Philon and Damion Square will also be unrestricted free agents. The Bolts will need to bring back at least one, and possibly two, of these guys. Both Square and Philon are much younger than Mebane and would probably each be cheaper to bring back.
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Unless of course, Mebane is willing to take the proverbial “hometown discount”.
In his case, it really would be. Mebane went to Crenshaw High School and has to love the idea of staying in Los Angeles. Plus, there may not be a huge market for an aging defensive tackle who has seen his best days on the field pass.
If the Chargers could convince Mebane to come back and be a rotational backup behind players like Justin Jones, Corey Liuget and whoever they decide to re-sign between Square and Philon, it might be worth bringing him back.
However, if Mebane is looking for one final payday in which he’ll go wherever he is going to get the biggest offer, the team should let him walk.
Decision: Bring back but only at a discounted price.