San Diego Chargers' Most Under and Overrated Offseason Additions
It's tough to argue with the job Tom Telesco has done in the offseason.
With cap space limited, the second-year GM of the San Diego Chargers stretched every dollar in free agency. His most recent pickup of Pro Bowl corner Brandon Flowers should have put San Diego way over budget, but the inner workings of the incentive-laden deal allowed for some breathing room.
As Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego explained, Flowers' contract is worth an estimated $5 million, but the $2 million in incentives does not affect the team's cap space. The Chargers reportedly had $3 million before signing Flowers.
On paper, this year's roster looks a lot better with the addition of Flowers and a handful of others, but as Telesco witnessed from experience—looks can be deceiving.
Take, for example, last year's group of offseason additions. Derek Cox was offered a four-year, $20 million contract by San Diego but eventually wound up flaming out due to poor performance on the field and was cut after one season. Then consider an under-the-radar signing like King Dunlap, who flourished in a starting role.
Every group has its hits and misses. Here are the most under and overrated additions for San Diego in 2014.
Underrated: Kavell Conner
The injuries to Donald Butler and Manti Te'o last season highlighted a lack of depth at inside linebacker. Conner, a former three-year starter in Indianapolis, gives John Pagano that depth.
He started 36 of the 52 games he played in with the Colts and racked up 104 tackles during his best season in 2011.
Butler and Te'o will take the majority of the snaps next season, but Conner's presence provides some insurance if injuries strike the young tandem again.
Overrated: Brandon Flowers
Brandon Flowers is an upgrade for the Chargers secondary given his resume in Kansas City, but there are critics who aren't buying in on the 28-year-old corner.
ESPN analyst and and former 12-year NFL scout Louis Riddick wasn't surprised by Flowers' availability upon his release:
I 'm not surprised by the lack of substantial market for Flowers. He isn't that good. #perceptionvsreality— Louis Riddick (@LRiddickESPN) June 24, 2014
Fellow ESPN colleague Eric D. Williams was also not sold:
As for recently released Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers, I think San Diego has enough 5-10 corners on the roster. I don’t see him as an upgrade.
Flowers, on the other hand, thinks otherwise. He told NFL Total Access he was the best corner in football, per NFL.com's Dan Hanzus.
Underrated: Rich Ohrnberger
Rich Ohrnberger's signing is looking better already with Jeromey Clary and Nick Hardwick nicked up early in the offseason. Clary is recovering from hip and shoulder surgeries while Hardwick is getting over a foot injury, which he suffered in minicamp.
Ohrnberger played both spots last season and was surprisingly efficient in relief of the injured starters. When training camp rolls around in late July, the Chargers could look to Ohrnberger if Clary is still not fit to practice.
Overrated: Chad Rinehart
Keeping things consistent on the offensive line was Telesco's intention by re-signing Chad Rinehart, but two years, $6 million seems like an awful lot for someone that's only played 42 games in five seasons.
When healthy, Rinehart is a decent starter (a middle-of-the-pack guy at best), but his absence during the year often hurt the offensive line, which had enough injuries to deal with not including Rinehart's.
Since 2009, he's only managed to play double-digit games twice.
Underrated: Jerry Attaochu
Jerry Attaochu wasn't viewed as a first-round talent in the draft, but San Diego may have potentially found a gem in the Georgia Tech pass-rusher.
National Football Post recognized Attaochu as one of this year's rookies to keep an eye on next season, and I have to agree. He's a great fit in Pagano's scheme and I see him getting a lot of snaps with aging pieces in Dwight Freeney and Jarret Johnson on the roster.
Being around those veterans will also have a tremendous impact on his own game.
Overrated: Brandon Ghee
The odds aren't in Brandon Ghee's favor at the moment.
He already had an uphill battle in making the Chargers roster with his long injury history, but the addition of Flowers introduces a whole new challenge. Flowers, Shareece Wright and first-round draft choice Jason Verrett will likely command the top three spots on the depth chart and Ghee will have to compete with the seven other corners on the roster.
Ghee's deal wasn't a pricey move to begin with, but it's difficult to believe his health will allow him to make an impact with a new team. If he's outplayed in camp, San Diego may even choose to cut ties with the former Bengal.