The LA Chargers have done a great job of addressing the needs of the team this offseason. Tom Telesco made Corey Linsley the highest-paid center in NFL history as part of an offensive line overhaul, both Rashawn Slater and Asante Samuel Jr. landed in LA, and most importantly, the team seemed to hire the right head coach in Brandon Staley.
There is still room to work for the Bolts. According to Over The Cap, the Chargers have just under $20 million in remaining cap space. The team does still need to sign Slater but his cap hit will likely be in the $3.5-4 million range.
The team has money to spend and there certainly is reason to believe that the front office will spend it before the season begins. While it is late in free agency, the Chargers can land a former All-Pro that can have a much bigger impact on the team than fans may think.
That former All-Pro that the LA Chargers should take a chance on is Todd Gurley.
Gurley is a free agent after one season with the Atlanta Falcons and still has not been signed to a new team. This is surprising as Gurley is three years removed from an MVP-caliber season and was not bad last.
His overall numbers were not great but he had his moments last season where he proved his value. He carried the ball 195 times for Atlanta, averaging 3.5 yards per carry for 695 yards on the season. He proved to still be a scoring threat, finding the endzone nine times on the ground.
Gurley also added 164 receiving yards on 25 receptions.
So why should the LA Chargers sign Todd Gurley? I can already hear the argument against Gurley: he’s old, is not the same player that he used to be and is not worth the money. That all is fair, but we have to consider the type of signing Gurley would be.
Gurley would be a depth signing for a running back room that, quite frankly, is a bigger issue than fans may realize. Austin Ekeler is great and if he stays healthy he should be primed for a big season. However, even if he is healthy, he simply cannot play 100% of the snaps.
The depth behind him is questionable. Justin Jackson has shown flashes, but they have been just that — flashes. Jackson has not been able to stay healthy and is not the most reliable depth option. Joshua Kelley was the worst running back in the league last season (ranked dead last in running back DVOA) and Larry Rountree is a late-round rookie that is raw.
There isn’t another running back that I currently feel comfortable with to split most of the snaps with Ekeler. Granted, it won’t be a clean split like with Melvin Gordon, but the options still feel less than ideal.
Someone definitely could breakout and surprise but that is far from a guarantee. The Chargers would be better pressed to at least give themselves more options than the ones in-house.
Gurley is going to come over on a small contract that won’t restrict the team in any way, shape, or form. The Chargers can bring him in for camp and for preseason and see what he has. At the very least he could have a positive impact on Kelley and Rountree. In the best-case scenario, the team gets the running back that can take 20% of the carries.
More specifically to Gurley, the Chargers would get a short-yardage option. Austin Ekeler has not been great in short-yardage situations in his career. He absolutely will be better with a better offensive line but it does not hurt at all to bring in someone who has thrived in those situations.
As we saw in Atlanta, Gurley could be a short-yardage option and even an option in goal-line situations to get the team six points. I definitely would feel more comfortable with Todd Gurley in a short-yardage situation at the goal-line than Joshua Kelley.
And again, injuries are inevitable. There will be a running back (or two) that will get hurt on the LA Chargers. The team can prepare for this and not be in the situation they were last season where Troymaine Pope and Kalen Ballage were getting significant snaps.
We’ve seen the kind of impact a cheap running back signing can make. The LA Chargers should look no further than Leonard Fournette’s playoffs to convince themselves to sign Todd Gurley.