The LA Chargers abandon the fullback position — why?

LA Chargers (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
LA Chargers (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images) /

The LA Chargers will not have a fullback on the final Week 1 depth chart.

Fans that love an older style of football are not going to be happy with the LA Chargers‘ roster decisions as the Chargers have abandoned the fullback position being on the roster heading into Week 1.

It was reported on Friday that the team was cutting undrafted free agent Bobby Holly, who had gained a bit of a cult following among Charger fans for his impressive physique and strength. With this move, Gabe Nabers seemingly had the job.

However, news dropped on Saturday afternoon that the Chargers were also cutting Nabers with the intent of bringing him back to be on the practice squad.

#Chargers released FB Gabe Nabers, per source. They plan on bringing him back for practice squad

— Gilbert Manzano (@GManzano24) September 5, 2020

As Charger fans may recall, the team lost its full-time fullback from the last several seasons in Derek Watt in the offseason. Watt signed a deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers and joined his brother, T.J.

This raises an immediate question for every LA Chargers fan that has been monitoring this position battle at fullback:

Why are the LA Chargers abandoning the fullback position?

It is no secret that the fullback has been used less and less as the league has adopted a pass-first M-O. However, the most successful teams in the league still utilize a fullback and have great ones at that.

Teams like the New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers have benefitted in recent years from utilizing the fullback position. While it has been phased out for the most part, it does still have some importance in the NFL.

This seems especially applicable to the LA Chargers, who are seemingly going to adopt a more run-heavy offensive scheme that would benefit from a blocking fullback. This team is built much more for a fullback than previous years.

Quite frankly, there is one simple answer to this question that is obviously apparent by the fact that the team is not completely cutting ties with Nabers.

The LA Chargers are NOT abandoning the fullback position.

The fact that Nabers is going to the practice squad tells us that this is going to be an evolving situation for the Bolts. We will almost certainly still see him in action at some point this season.

This allows the Chargers to go on a week-by-week basis with the matchup they have upcoming, as well as their previous outcomes, and decide whether or not it is relevant to activate Nabers. For now, the Chargers seem to believe that there is more value in giving that roster spot to someone else, perhaps more depth in the receiver room, tight end room or on the offensive line.

Whether or not it is a smart move depends on who the Chargers are using that extra roster spot for and how often they utilize Nabers. If there are offensive flaws that could be helped by someone like Nabers and the team doesn’t adjust then we can critique the move.

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However, for now, the LA Chargers are probably just playing chess while we are all playing checkers. Expect to see Nabers in a Chargers jersey at some point this season, just not right away.