It’s been a quiet free agency period thus far for the San Diego Chargers when it comes to signing big names. The Chargers
have resisted the urge to spend big on free agents, instead adding depth in running back Donald Brown, tight end David Johnson, linebacker Kavell Conner and quarterback Kellen Clemens. The four signings come on top of the Chargers re-signing Donald Butler, Darrell Stuckey and Chad Rhinehart.
Chargers general manager Tom Telesco struck a late night deal on Tuesday to bring in Brown from the Indianapolis Colts. The Chargers GM has familiarity with Brown from his time with the Colts, who drafted Brown with the 27th overall pick in the 2009 draft out of the University of Connecticut. Brown is coming off of the best season of his career in 2013 when he rushed for 537 yards on a 5.3 yard per carry average while catching 27 passes for 214 yards. The former Colt will give the Chargers solid depth in the backfield and a nice alternative to Ryan Mathews, who has battled injuries during his Chargers career. Brown is a sure-handed player with just two career NFL fumbles. Johnson, who played the last four seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers is a capable backup who has played fullback as well as tight end. He’s known as a solid blocker who will give the Chargers versatility in the run game as well as an additional option in the passing game. Like in his acquisition of Donald Brown GM Telesco went with familiarity in signing Kavell Conner away from the Colts. Conner is a bit of a reclamation project after not starting a single game with the Indianapolis Colts during the 2013 season. With Donald Butler and Manti Te’o manning the inside linebacker positions the signing of Conner is more of a depth move. Conner is known for his ability to stop the run. Looking to add depth at the quarterback spots the Chargers opted not to re-sign Charlie Whitehurst and signed Kellen Clemens, recently of the St. Louis Rams. Clemens, a former starter with the New York Jets ended up starting a majority of the season in 2013 for the Rams. The former Oregon Duck should be a solid backup for veteran Philip Rivers. Clemens has started 21 games in his NFL career, with an 8-13 record.
With only $5 million in available salary cap the Chargers were never going to be major players, like the Denver Broncos
, in free agency this offseason. Instead Telesco has wisely added some depth players while holding on to some key contributors who were free agent eligible. The Chargers re-signed Donald Butler and special teams ace Darrell Stuckey. They also locked up Chad Rhinehart to a two-year contract, providing stability on the offensive line. Telesco also was able to get wide receiver Eddie Royal and linebacker Jarret Johnson to re-structure their contracts, giving the team additional flexibility. The key now is success in the draft, like in 2013 where three key starters were found in the first three picks.
The Chargers moves may not match the Super Bowl or bust attitude in Denver, but GM Telesco is wisely maintaining his depth and core while emphasizing continued growth through the upcoming draft. They may not compete with the Broncos for the top of the division but the Chargers should be solid wild card contributors once again.
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Norv Turner and the San Diego Chargers head in to week 5 sitting atop the AFC West with a three and one record. The Chargers head to New Orleans to take on the Saints in a game that has a lot more on the line for the Saints then the Chargers. So the Chargers will need to play a balanced game while looking for a big game out of Philip Rivers.
The Chargers have gotten off to a great start with two of the three wins coming against division rivals the Oakland Raiders and the Kansas City Chiefs. In order for a team to win the division they have to take care of the teams in that division. That is exactly what the Chargers has done this season. In week 1 Philip Rivers threw for 231and 1 touchdown while Nate Kaeding added 5 field goals to beat the Raiders 22-14. After taking care of the Tennessee Titans in week 2 38-10 the Chargers would find themselves in a tough match-up against the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons would be to much and the Chargers would fall 27-3. The team would rebound in week 4 defeating the Chiefs as Rivers threw for 209 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception while the running game added 104 yards and a touchdown. The Chargers would benefit from 3 interceptions from Matt Cassel and 3 loss fumbles in the running game. The Chargers beat the Chiefs 37-20 to move to 3-1 on the season.
Now next up is the Saints where Drew Brees has a chance to pass Johnny Unitas in the all-time consecutive games throwing a touchdown record and they also look for the first win of the season. This match-up will be difficult as the NFL has allowed suspended head coach Sean Payton the chance to attend the game due to the record. This will give the Saints some inspiration and will come out ready to play.
In week 6 Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos will come to town in a divisional match-up. This game will be an intense game as both teams have goals on winning the division. This is only the first of two between the two teams as they also square off in week 11 as well. The Chargers will need to find a running game down the stretch if they want to win the division while the Broncos look for Peyton to lead them to the post-season.
After week 6 the Chargers get a bye before getting three games against teams they should beat the Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. These three games will be key as the next four games comes against the Broncos, Ravens, Bengals and Steelers. All four should be tough down to the wire games with the Chargers needing at least 2 wins in those 4. The match-ups against all four of the AFC North teams will be defensive battles with the team winning making the fewer mistakes. The Chargers finish up taking on the Carolina Panthers, New York Jets and the Raiders. This gives them a chance to win the last three games and lock up the division.
The Chargers will need to continue to stop the run and play good defense while Rivers needs to throw touchdowns and not turn the ball over. This is a big season for the Chargers and Turner with high expectations on the line.