The LA Chargers lost free safety Rayshawn Jenkins to the Jacksonville Jaguars yesterday afternoon. Jenkins, who spent four seasons with the team, signed a 4-year deal worth $35 million dollars with $16 million fully guaranteed. The contract is worth $39.5 million with incentives.
Jenkins was a fourth-round pick back in 2017. That’s a nice payday for a fourth-round pick. 2020 was by far the best year of his career, he totaled 84 tackles, two interceptions, four pass deflections, and one sack. Per Pro Football Focus, he was the 30th ranked safety in the NFL last season.
He was used as a chess piece for the Chargers defense in 2020. He took 57 snaps on the defensive line, 493 snaps in the box, 181 snaps as a slot corner, 11 as a wide corner, and 117snaps as a free safety.
In addition, losing Jenkins puts the Chargers in a bit of a tough position. The Nasir Adderley experiment has not gone well, and the team needs a significant upgrade.
Jahleel Addae is 31 but he’s also an unrestricted free agent. Tom Telesco or Brandon Staley should not feel comfortable heading into the 2021 season with Adderley taking the majority of the snaps at free safety.
LA Chargers draft replacement for Rayshawn Jenkins: Richie Grant
Richie Grant had a very productive career at the University of Central Florida. Grant finished his four-year career with 290 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, one sack, 10 interceptions, and 17 pass deflections. The ball production was astounding.
He was used in a plethora of ways during his time in college. He aligned at free safety, slot corner, box safety, and was featured in two high safety looks. The Knights were also comfortable enough to let him play man coverage.
He has good size for a free safety, listed at 6’0 and 194 pounds. He consistently finds himself around the football, hence the ball production mentioned above.
New head coach Brandon Staley values players in the secondary who are versatile. He will ask his safeties to play different roles. Safeties in the new defensive scheme will have to be physical tacklers and have the will to show up in the run game.
Grant possesses the ability to do that. He has a quick trigger in terms of processing the run and flying to the football to make a play. He can be out of control at times but that is something that can be coached.
With the range and speed that Grant brings to the table, Staley should enjoy this prospect, assuming he’s selected in April.