An Antonio Gates return: Possible
Of course, we all want another year of watching Gates body up defenders as he did under the basket at Kent State, but the question is does Telesco want that?
Surely he does, but not at a high price. What Gates brings at this point in his career is a good red zone and third-down receiving option. However, he is also a liability as a blocker and a clear sign that the Chargers are planning on throwing the ball.
While this is still somewhat valuable, it is not a whole lot more valuable than the blocking prowess that a cheap Sean Culkin would bring, especially when Hunter Henry will also bring Gates’ red zone and third down-receiving threat.
Since Gates proved that he still has something left in the tank last year, a return of Gates is possible. The question is simply how much does he want to play for the Chargers next year?
If he wants that chance enough that he will take a low paying deal, then he will likely be back. If not, expect a similar storyline as last year before Henry was hurt. Gates could be kicked to the curb again. For now, let’s just hope we get another year of this.
Signing an offensive tackle: More likely than you think
While some have commended the Chargers for waiting to address the offensive tackle position until the draft, that is not necessarily out of play yet.
While the highest profile free-agent tackles are long gone, some players that could compete with Sam Tevi at tackle are still available.
Jared Veldheer, Ryan Schraeder, and Donald Penn are some players with recent starting experience that would be good backup swing tackles at a minimum with the upside of an average starter. These players will not break the bank and will still allow the team to pursue other free agents.
Before arguing against signing a tackle in free agency, know that these players should not be considered immediate starters. A starter could still be drafted in the first round, then a competition for which player will become the backup tackle will commence.
Competition is never a bad thing in football. Without it, we would never see the emotional highs of Philip Rivers that bring us such joy.
— Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) November 7, 2016
Signing an interior defensive lineman: Near Certain
The current depth along the interior of the defensive line is as follows:
NT Starter: Brandon Mebane, Backup: T.Y. McGill DT Starter: Justin Jones That’s it, folks.
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The Chargers cannot rely on finding an interior defensive lineman and expecting him to start immediately. Telesco likes to draft for a player’s talent rather than need when possible, and the current situation strongly pushes him to draft for need. At this point in their respective careers, each of the players above should be used mainly as rotational pieces.
While the draft is certainly stacked with starting level interior defensive linemen, free agency has quite a few options of its own. To start, look no further than Corey Luiget and Damion Square. These two are still-available free agents that manned the inside last year.
If you do want to look further, as Telesco should, Timmy Jernigan, Danny Shelton, and Rodney Gunter are other players that Telesco should take a look at.
Simply put, the Chargers are not done on the interior of the defensive line in free agency.
What do you think the next move is for the Chargers in free agency? Let us know in the comments below.