Ranking the 2014 Impact of Chargers' Free-Agent Signings so Far
Re-signing players seemed to be the more favored approach for Chargers general manager Tom Telesco, but the few outside additions he made in free agency will have an impact on the 2014 season.
By keeping the core of his roster together, Telesco will need only to add to a team that made the postseason a year ago. His first order of business in free agency was to add depth at positions that were hindered by injuries, and he accomplished just that despite minimal cap space.
Here's how the free-agent signings stack up so far.
6. Cordarro Law
The Chargers looked north of the border for pass-rushing help in former CFL star Cordarro Law, who totaled 14 sacks with the Calgary Stampeders last year.
Law, who went undrafted out of Southern Mississippi, was in training camp with the Seattle Seahawks but failed to make the roster. If Law can bring the same motor he showcased in Canada, he could make good on his second chance with an NFL team.
Impact: Law's first step will be making the active roster. From there, he'll need to convince the coaching staff he can make an impact as an edge-rusher. The Chargers lost three pass-rushers to injury last season, so they'll need to have players waiting on deck.
5. Brandon Ghee
The Chargers scooped up injury-prone corner Brandon Ghee from the Cincinnati Bengals, hoping the former third-round pick could benefit from a fresh start with a new team. Ghee missed all of the 2012 season with a wrist injury and played a career-high 10 games in 2013.
Impact: With San Diego looking to retool its secondary in the coming months through the draft, the addition of Ghee provides the team with an experienced player that can compete in training camp. Ghee doesn't have a wealth of starts in his career, but he spent four years in Mike Zimmer's system in Cincinnati.
4. Kellen Clemens
The Chargers weren't able to hold onto veteran backup Charlie Whitehurst, but they did manage to replace him with the very experienced Kellen Clemens, who got a rare opportunity to pad his resume with the St. Louis Rams when Sam Bradford went down with a season-ending injury.
Impact: Clemens proved last year he could lead a team to wins when Bradford's injury opened the door for some playing time, but he'll be Philip Rivers' wing man in San Diego. From what he told Ricky Henne of Chargers.com, he takes his role as a backup seriously:
I really see myself as a guy who is here to help Philip in whatever capacity that is. In the past for guys it’s been extra film, or help with younger guys. Whatever it might be, that’s what I’ll do. I just want to win.
3. David Johnson
David Johnson lined up at tight end and some fullback for the Pittsburgh Steelers where his blocking strengths were more coveted than his receiving skills. The Chargers released veteran fullback Le'Ron McClain before the start of free agency, so all signs point to Johnson possibly filling that vacancy.
Impact: While fullback seems like the most logical spot for Johnson, don't count out some time at tight end as well. San Diego had hoped John Phillips could provide the team with blocking at the tight end spot, but his season came to an end with a knee injury. Johnson could line up at either position and pave the way in the running game.
2. Kavell Conner
Manti Te'o and Donald Butler had some brief run-ins with injuries last season, so the counter move was made to add depth at inside linebacker with former Indianapolis Colt Kavell Conner. Conner, a seventh-round draft choice in 2010, racked up 104 tackles in 2011, but his production dropped off the next two seasons in Indy.
Impact: Conner goes from one Pagano to another in San Diego where he could see a good chunk of playing time in a rotation at inside linebacker. Te'o's rookie season was promising, but Conner could be the better option as a run-stopper.
1. Donald Brown
Donald Brown said it best during his introductory press conference in San Diego when he described the meshing of he, Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead forming "a three-headed monster" in the backfield.
Impact: As if the Chargers didn't have enough variety before at the running back position, Brown will add a third dimension to the ground game that wasn't there last season. The former first-round pick finished third in the league with 5.3 yards a carry in 2013, and he has fumbled just once in his six-year career.