Among the top priorities for the Los Angeles Chargers this offseason is to toughen up the middle of the defense.
Whether that comes at the defensive tackle position, linebacker, or a combination of both, expect to see Tom Telesco tackle this area in both free agency and the draft.
The team has several key players on defense set to become free agents including Darius Philon, Damion Square and Denzel Perryman. Should the team move on from Perryman, there will be a big hole to fill at middle linebacker, especially since Hayes Pullard and Kyle Emanuel are also set to hit the open market.
One way the Chargers could fill the hole at the position would be to convince Anthony Barr, the stud linebacker of the Minnesota Vikings, to come to the west coast.
The former first-round pick is an unrestricted free agent and it seems his time in Minnesota has come to an end. He has made four consecutive trips to the Pro Bowl and is one of the most athletic linebackers in the league.
For his career, Barr has 338 tackles, 13.5 sacks, seven forced fumbles and an interception which he returned for a touchdown. He would be a big-splash signing for Tom Telesco, one who would immediately make the defense better.
It wouldn’t be hard to convince Barr to sign in Los Angeles, either. Barr was born in Indiana but went to high school in L.A. before attending UCLA. Though he started his career on the offensive side of the ball, he switched to linebacker during his junior season and in just two seasons on defense, placed himself among the top six in school history for tackles for loss and sacks.
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Players often choose to come back to their roots when they are free agents and have the power to sign wherever they want, making the Chargers a prime destination for him. The Bolts are also seen as a top contender next season and that will make them even more attractive to a guy like Barr.
However, the Los Angeles Rams will hold much of the same appeal and could also bring Barr onto one of the league’s most star-studded defenses.
Telesco needs to break out his best negotiation skills and see if he can get Barr to sign on the dotted line. He wouldn’t come cheap, but the team might just be one major piece away from getting to the top of the mountain.
Could Barr be that piece?