3. Signing Chris Harris Jr.
The Chargers needed to add more talent to the secondary. They accomplished that with the signing of Chris Harris Jr. The deal was solidified at two years for $20 million, another great value signing by Telesco.
Harris Jr. has a strong reputation as one of the better nickel corners in the league. When they were contending for super bowls he was a key cog to their success and was an All-Pro/Pro Bowl player every year. He has 20 interceptions to his name to go along with 518 career tackles and 23 tackles for loss, per Pro Football Reference.
This past season Vic Fangio elected to move him to the outside part of the defense and he played well, but certainly not up to the level that he was accustomed to.
He certainly would be an upgrade over Mike Davis and Brandon Facyson outside, but apparently the plan for the team is to play him as the team’s nickel and move Desmond King to the role previously held by Adrian Phillips-who was just signed by the Patriots, unfortunately. This makes sense when taking King’s struggles in coverage this past year into consideration.
This move is expected to add more playmaking and versatility to the defense. Head coach Anthony Lynn mentioned at the scouting combine that one of their bigger priorities this offseason is to create more turnovers.
While Phillips is a big loss in the locker room, he has his limits in that regard so getting King and Harris Jr. on the field at once helps accomplish that goal at a higher scale. King did play safety at Iowa so it’s also possible that the team views this as his natural position.
The negative thing here is that the team still needs to address the outside cornerback position opposite Casey Hayward. As I said, Harris Jr. could take some reps there in the base defense but whenever the team goes to the nickel or dime packages that still leaves Davis or Facyson as the clear weak links of the unit.
I can’t imagine the Chargers will invest in two free-agent defensive backs in one offseason and there aren’t really many great options out there anymore, so this leads me to think the team will address that concern in the draft. There are some very good prospects the team could draft in the middle rounds this year such as Troy Pride, Darnay Holmes, Amik Robertson or Lamar Jackson.
Grading the move: B
Chris Harris Jr. is the only player with 20+ INT, 20+ TFL, and 80+ passes defensed since he entered the NFL in 2011
— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) March 19, 2020