Reassessing Chargers' Offseason Plan and Breaking Down What's Left to Address
From the moment the 2013 season concluded, the San Diego Chargers have been hard at work fulfilling the plan for the offseason.
In the four months since the Chargers were eliminated from the postseason, the team has retooled its coaching staff and roster, and preparations are being made for the upcoming draft. Later this month, the team will be commencing its offseason program, and OTAs and minicamp are just around the corner.
Let's reassess San Diego's offseason plan and examine what else needs to be done.
Departures: Ken Whisenhunt (hired as Titans head coach), Jason Michael (hired as Titans OC)
Promotions: Frank Reich (promoted to OC), Nick Sirianni (promoted to QBs coach)
Additions: Bobby King (hired as assistant LBs coach), Shane Steichen (hired as QC offense), Pete Metzelaars (hired as TEs coach)
Overview: In one season with San Diego, Whisenhunt helped Philip Rivers turn his career around while successfully transforming the Chargers offense into one of the league's best in 2013. Given that success in such a short time, Whisenhunt was highly sought after by teams looking to fill their head-coaching vacancies, and he settled on Tennessee, where he'll attempt to help Jake Locker like he did Rivers.
While the culture on offense will change in 2014, don't expect Reich to pull back the punches. In his first address to the media, Reich touched on his philosophy for the offense:
I think you have to be an aggressive play caller. That doesn't mean more passes than runs. It means situational football, knowing what to do, how to take advantage of it and trusting your players to be able to do what you call.
I love everything about the no-huddle. I have been involved with it for a lot of years. I always have looked at it like a prize fight. You are a heavyweight champion and you get in there and you have to dictate the pace of the fight.
What's left to be done: The 2014 coaching staff was finalized in early February.
Contract Restructures, Extensions
Restructures: Eddie Royal (saved $1 million in cap space), Jarret Johnson (saved $2 million in cap space), Dwight Freeney (saved $906,250 in cap space)
Extensions: Donald Butler (signed a three-year $20 million contract with team option after third year)
Overview: San Diego retained its top free agent in Butler while protecting against his injury-ridden past with a team option in his contract. To make room for Butler's contract, as well as for other free agents, the team managed to restructure the contracts of Royal, Johnson and Freeney to clear nearly $4 million in cap space.
What's left to do: Jeromey Clary is scheduled to count $6.25 million against the cap in 2014, making him the fourth-highest paid player on the team next to Philip Rivers, Eric Weddle and Antonio Gates. His contract needs to be re-worked for the good of the team.
Re-signings: Chad Rinehart (signed a two-year contract), Darrell Stuckey (signed a four-year contract), Seyi Ajirotutu (signed a one-year contract), Richard Marshall (signed a one-year contract), Reggie Walker (signed a two-year contract)
Pending Free Agents: Danario Alexander, Ronnie Brown, Rich Ohrnberger, Bront Bird
Overview: The Chargers brought back two starters from last season in Rinehart and Marshall and important special teamers in Stuckey and Ajirotutu. Walker returning is another welcomed move that gives San Diego depth at a position that was hit hard by injuries in 2013.
What's left to do: Of the four pending free agents the Chargers could bring back, Alexander and Ohrnberger make the most sense. Alexander's struggles with knee injuries, however, may cause him to be left off of the team's list. Ohrnberger can play guard and center, two positions San Diego is lacking in depth.
Departed Players: Derek Cox (signed by Vikings), Le'Ron McClain, Johnny Patrick (signed by Jets), Charlie Whitehurst (signed by Titans), Cam Thomas (signed by Steelers), Stephen Schilling (signed by Seahawks), Lavelle Hawkins (expected to sign with Buccaneers)
Overview: Of the dead wood San Diego dropped from the roster, none deserved it more than Cox. McClain and Thomas leaving presents a bit of a problem, however. The team looks set to experiment with David Johnson at fullback, and there's still a void at defensive tackle that has yet to be filled.
What's left to do: Roster looks good for now. Front office unloaded cap space and players who underperformed.
Free-Agent Additions: Donald Brown (signed a three-year contract), David Johnson (signed a two-year contract), Kavell Conner (signed a three-year contract), Kellen Clemens (signed a two-year contract), Brandon Ghee (signed a two-year contract)
Overview: Using the money he freed up in the months leading up to free agency, general manager Tom Telesco found potential gems on the market. Brown, who had a big year in Indianapolis, will join Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead in what should be a strong rushing attack in 2014. If he's healthy, Conner could be another player to make a big impact; he's just two years removed from a career year in which he totaled 104 tackles.
What's left to do: After all of the action in free agency, San Diego has little room left to pursue more additions. Expect the rest of the team's needs to be filled in the draft.
Primary Needs: CB, NT, WR
Secondary Needs: OLB, OG, OT, S
Overview: Plans for the draft are on track. The Chargers will have the 25th pick in all seven rounds, and all the pre-draft scouting is just about complete. Coaches and scouts got a look at prospects at the combine and during their respective pro days.
What's left to do: All that's left to do is put the finishing touches on the big board. The stage in New York will be set almost a month from now, and we can only guess who San Diego will take with the 25th pick overall. Judging from how Telesco drafted last year, one can only assume he'll take the best player available while keeping in mind his team's primary needs.