Chargers' free-agent mistake on full display after latest training camp injury

It didn't make sense then and it looks even worse now for the Chargers.

AFC Wild Card Playoffs - Los Angeles Chargers v Jacksonville Jaguars
AFC Wild Card Playoffs - Los Angeles Chargers v Jacksonville Jaguars / Courtney Culbreath/GettyImages

While it did not include the same superstar names from the previous spring, the 2022 Chargers offseason was still a good one. Tom Telesco was able to create cap space in order to bring back the most important members of last year's core while making small improvements where needed.

But just because it was a good offseason does not mean it was a perfect one. The Chargers made mistakes, most notably with the players the team decided not to sign. After months of speculation, the Chargers ultimately did not sign safety John Johnson, who instead reunited with the LA Rams.

It seemed as if the veteran safety was a perfect fit for the Chargers both because of the uncertainty at the position and because of his ties with Brandon Staley. Yet the Chargers still didn't sign him even though the team had plenty of cap space to sign Johnson, who signed for the veteran minimum with the Rams.

That decision has only aged poorly as there are now even more question marks at the safety position. Alohi Gilman, who is in line to start alongside Derwin James, is no longer practicing at Chargers training camp and was seen with a noticeable limp.

Chargers' decision to pass on John Johnson instantly backfires

There is no clarity yet on how serious GIlman's injury is and whether or not it will impact his ability to play in Week 1 against the Miami Dolphins. There is a very real chance that Gilman can return to the fold before then and start in Week 1.

Even if Gilman does make a full recovery before the start of the 2023 season it does not change the fact that the Chargers were wrong to pass on Johnson. There is nothing wrong with having too much depth, especially in the secondary, and Gilman's injury is another example of why that is the case.

It isn't like safety is a steadfast position for the Bolts. Derwin James is one of the best safeties in the sport but he plays all around the defense, so having extra depth in the traditional safety sense is smart. The only problem is that Gilman has never started an entire season before and JT Woods has not even proven that he is NFL-ready in year two.

It is not every day that a solid veteran who is still relatively young, can produce, and is familiar with Staley's scheme just falls into the team's lap. But despite all of the opportunities to sign Johnson, the Chargers decided to take a chance with the noticeable risks at the safety position.

Perhaps Johnson just wanted to return to the Rams and wanted a place where he could play more. But as a better team with more cap space, all the Chargers had to do was sprinkle a little bit extra on top of his salary and Johnson likely would be in the powder blue instead.