Most of the attention in free agency goes to the guys getting top dollar. Hunter Henry will likely be landing top tight end money this offseason while many other free agents land deals between $10-20 million per year.
The smaller contracts given out by teams don’t get talked about nearly as much in March, but they do matter. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers gave Leonard Fournette a one-year $2 million deal that many didn’t think would amount to much at the time. Now in 2021, he’s Lombardi Lenny. Nelson Agholor was a similarly great find by Las Vegas with a 2020 cap hit of just $1 million dollars after a brutal season with Philadelphia.
To me, a bargain bin is defined as a player that will receive a deal worth $5 million or less in average annual value. Sometimes they might be categorized as “depth” signings, but players can always come out of nowhere in larger than expected roles.
Here are three bargain bin free agents for the LA Chargers to pursue.
OLB Jeremiah Attaochu
The Chargers reunite with a former second-round pick
A former Charger starts off the list. Jeremiah Attaochu had a dynamite 2015 season with six sacks, 55 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, as well as 17 QB hits.
Unfortunately, Attaochu never quite built off of that initial success in the way many thought he would. A broken foot ended his 2016 season and a hamstring injury lingered through 2017. He was a healthy scratch for most of his final Chargers’ season.
After a quick year with the Jets, Attaochu landed in Denver for the 2019 season. Broncos’ outside linebackers coach Brandon Staley would have the task of getting the most he could out of Attaochu. Despite playing a depth role for most of the year, Attaochu finished with 3.5 sacks, 21 tackles, and five quarterback hits. It was by far the most efficient season he had since his initial breakout 2015 year.
With Von Miller out for the entire 2020 season as well as Bradley Chubb missing some time, Attaochu had an even better year in 2020. He looked a bit more decisive in his pass rush than he had been while racking up five sacks:
With the Chargers going to a Staley 3-4 defensive scheme that favors outside linebackers with pass rush ability, Attaochu makes sense. He’s proven himself more than capable of playing a backup/depth role and wouldn’t be expensive. As we saw in 2020 with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram’s injuries, cheap depth is important.
Attaochu can probably be had on a one or two year deal for $2-4 million per. With a connection to both Staley and the Chargers, this seems like a possibility to keep an eye on.