DE: Takkarist McKinley
The Chargers don’t really need to sign an expensive defensive end this season. Melvin Ingram is a little bit older and the change to Staley 3-4 makes an outside linebacker more imperative. They can re-sign some of last year’s guys like Isaac Rochell for a pretty cheap price anyway.
Defensive end could be a good draft position to go after, but I’m just not seeing a big-money free agent option that makes much sense. Joey Bosa is the guy here anyway, so it’s all about finding some better depth.
A low risk-high reward move could be former Falcons’ first-round pick, Takkarist McKinley. McKinley had 16.5 sacks in his first three seasons prior to 2020 being a season from hell for him. It became clear within the first month or two of the season that Atlanta would not be re-signing their 2017 first-round pick. McKinley got into a rather public feud with the organization and head coach Raheem Morris.
After he was waived, McKinley failed a series of physicals with Cincinnati and San Francisco prior to being signed by the Raiders. He wouldn’t play for Las Vegas though after being placed on IR. It’s pretty clear now that he played through the season banged up.
On a one or two year deal at the minimum, McKinley could fit the low risk-high reward category if he gets back into football shape. Sure, there’s always a chance it doesn’t work out, but the Chargers could just cut him anyway. There’s a bit of a difference between cutting your former first-round pick like Atlanta did vs. just cutting a guy who presents no real financial or team risk.
When healthy, McKinley does have some explosiveness and speed off of the line. It’s regressed a bit in the last few years, but it’s more about teaching him proper technique and getting the best out of him. I still think that there’s a potential contributor somewhere in there. If it doesn’t work out for the Chargers, they can cut him during training camp or the season easily.