The LA Chargers made a free-agent signing on Wednesday morning as Ian Rapoport reported that the team is expected to sign recently-released return specialist, Andre Roberts. Roberts was cut by the Texans on Tuesday.
Special teams has been a struggle for the Chargers this season. While all eyes are on the kicking woes and potential replacements for Tristan Vizcaino, the return game on both kickoffs and punts has been pretty bad.
It often gets overlooked, but special teams is a very important part of a well-balanced football team. It can swing the game between two really good teams and can be the difference between a Super Bowl run and losing on Wild Card Weekend.
Andre Roberts is a great signing by the LA Chargers and is one that every fan should be excited for.
This signing should be a welcomed sight for every Charger fan and there certainly are things to know not only about Roberts himself but the status of the LA Chargers as well. First, let's dive into Roberts' numbers.
1. Andre Roberts is a three-time Pro Bowler, one-time All-Pro and his success has come in recent years
Roberts did not do much for the Houston Texans this season but his best years are in recent years. This is not a case of the Chargers signing someone who was an All-Pro seven years ago as they hope to re-ignite his career. In fact, this is the opposite.
Roberts was named a Pro Bowler in 2018-2020 and earned a First-Team All-Pro nod in 2018 with the New York Jets. While he was not a First-Team All-Pro in 2019 or 2020, his numbers were still extremely impressive.
Roberts averaged 29.4 yards per kickoff return in 2018, 26.6 yards in 2019 and a league-leading 30.0 yards per return in 2020 with the Buffalo Bills. He only has one touchdown in those three years but that is not the point. The point is that the Bills often got great field position.
Roberts has been solid in punt returns as well. He averaged a league-leading 14.1 yards per return in his All-Pro season, 8.0 yards in 2019 and 9.9 yards in 2020. He has one punt-return touchdown in those three seasons as well.
Which takes us to the LA Chargers...
2. Andre Roberts could be the best returner the LA Chargers have had in over a decade.
The LA Chargers have really struggled to find a consistent returner over the last decade. This season, the team has turned to K.J. Hill and Larry Rountree on returning duties and it has been awful. Hill is averaging 16.7 yards per kickoff return and 6.8 yards per punt return. Rountree is also averaging 16.7 yards per kickoff return.
On average, the LA Chargers start with the ball on the other side of the 20. That is horrible. Even in a down year, Roberts is averaging almost five more yards per return than Hill and Rountree.
If Roberts returns to form and can average over 25 yards per return then it would be borderline historic for the Bolts. Since 2010, there has not been a single player on the LA Chargers to average over 25 yards per return with at least 20 returns in a season.
3. Brandon Staley means it when he says the LA Chargers are self-evaluating
Brandon Staley had a fantastic quote about how the LA Chargers need to self-evaluate in the bye week and not simply move onto the New England Patriots. This shows that he means it.
This is great for the team moving forward. There are other areas of the team, such as the run defense, that could use improvements. This means that something such as a trade, which is very uncharacteristic for Tom Telesco, could be on the table.
The LA Chargers are already a really good team. This shows that they are committed to getting better.