Why Kyzir White is the only player the Chargers cannot afford to lose this offseason

Los Angeles Chargers v Las Vegas Raiders
Los Angeles Chargers v Las Vegas Raiders / Chris Unger/GettyImages
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The Los Angeles Chargers are entering their most crucial offseason in years. After finishing the 2021 season with a 9-8 record and outside the playoff picture, the Chargers head into the third year of Justin Herbert's rookie contract knowing that the time for a roster load-up is now.

Spearheaded by GM Tom Telesco, Los Angeles has a war chest that includes $62 million in salary-cap space before any potential releases and has a projected 10 picks in the 2022 NFL Draft. If the Chargers can back up head coach Brandon Staley and his staff with a successful offseason, then the sky is the limit for the franchise heading into next season.

As stated by Tom Telesco himself during his annual end-of-season press conference last week, the team's offseason plan is to "reward our own, and then see what's needed".

In response to Telesco's comment, we'll discuss three reasons as to why an extension for linebacker Kyzir White is the team's first step that they must take this offseason.

1. Kyzir White is coming off the best season of his career with the Chargers

After being a 4th round pick in 2018, White found himself with an inconsistent role under the previous regime led by head coach Anthony Lynn and defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. White played safety and linebacker while in college at West Virginia, however, could never settle into a permanent position in Bradley's base 4-3 and cover-3 zone system.

In Brandon Staley's defense, White found himself playing as a starting inside linebacker in base 3-4 packages and enjoyed lots of snaps in dime and nickel packages as the sub-linebacker. Kyzir White was widely regarded as the Chargers' best LB against the run and took a huge step in pass defense when covering running backs and tight ends.

As the season progressed he became a vocal and emotional leader on and off the field, especially when the defense was struggling, and was one of the only consistent performers week-to-week.

When looking at White's statistics, the numbers seem to back up the flashes he showed on the field. White set career highs in snaps played and games started, and it resulted in him totaling the most pass defense's, forced fumbles, sacks, solo tackles, combined tackles, QB hits, and tackles for loss in his career.

Additional statistics show that Kyzir only missed a tackle on 5.3% of his tackling attempts, which was way down from 11.5% in 2020. He also had the 4th most run stops in the NFL with 53, and graded as the Chargers' 4th best defender according to PFF.

One of the things teams are looking at as a player progresses on his rookie contracts is continued development, and given his improved play and the resulting massive jump he took this year, it's clear to see that Kyzir White's potential has not been reached.