Now that the LA Chargers unfortunately wrapped up their season, the next mile markers revolve around free agency and the draft.
On Tuesday, the team parted ways with offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, as they begin the process of revamping play-calling duties. Any drastic personnel decisions won't happen until his replacement is brought in, and it appears that Brandon Staley will live to see another day.
Justin Herbert just completed year three. The clock is ticking on his future payday, along with the value he provides on a rookie deal. If the front office can string together some efficient roster moves, they'll be on the right path toward sustainable success.
What do the Chargers do with Keenan Allen?
The Chargers need to get dollars off the books. They're projected to be $20+ million in the red with effective cap space in 2023, per OTC.
Keenan Allen is a potential causality. If the team were to cut or trade him before June 1st, they'd save north of $14 mil. Of course, this move would tear at the hearts of Bolts fans. But from a football standpoint, a fresh play-caller and early-round WR selection is a competent answer (assuming Herbert's truly the guy).
Tom Telesco did say on Thursday that he is not interested in parting ways with Allen but things can always change.
Potential homegrown departures?
We're all aware of the struggles against the run. The Chargers recorded the third-fewest run stops and third-most missed tackles during the regular season (PFF).
Drue Tranquill is an unrestricted FA many fans hope to retain. Although Kenneth Murray was a liability in run packages, Tranquill actually led all linebackers with 24 missed tackles. In their defense- as a second line of support, they're naturally in tough spots if the interiors fail upfront. Tranquill has value in both coverage and as a pass rusher, so the likelihood he remains a Charger is dependent on the almighty dollar.
On the other hand, Nassir Adderley's playoff benching implies his eventual fate. Go ahead and pencil in a safety for this year's draft.
Will Chargers' defensive vets return?
An underrated decision to be made falls on Bryce Callahan and the team's plans in slot coverage.
According to SIS data, the Chargers rolled out nickel personnel at a 61% clip and ranked top-ten in EPA/play allowed from this split.
The 31-year-old veteran will likely depart in free agency, leaving the Bolts with a key defensive role to replace. Derwin James is a luxury in that he can drop into slot coverage as needed, but a nickel corner is essentially required in order to combat modern offenses.
Tilting away from coverage, Kyle Van Noy and Morgan Fox pose as additional question marks in free agency.
Joey Bosa wasn't active from Weeks 4-16. During that time, Fox/Van Noy accounted for >30% of the team's total pressures (PFF). Some of that can be associated with increased opportunities, but Khalil Mack isn't getting any younger, nor is Bosa any healthier (sarcasm). Ignoring depth concerns can quickly turn a competent unit into an unforeseen liability.
This defense enjoys sending five pass rushers. It'll be interesting whether Van Noy/Fox return or if the Bolts shift more towards youth.