SAN DIEGO – The Los Angeles Chargers ended their offseason program on June 15. Here’s a look at how they fared:
Offseason goals/grade: New Chargers coach Anthony Lynn sought to create some camaraderie and chemistry in his initial work with his new players. Mission accomplished. Although the Chargers have had to deal with some adversity due to the relocation issues and remained in San Diego for offseason work, Lynn’s no-nonsense approach has been refreshing for players, creating a sense of accountability at Chargers Park. Lynn also has been buoyed by an experienced coaching staff, including two former head coaches in offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, along with longtime NFL coach special-teams coordinator George Stewart, who serves as Lynn’s assistant head coach. “He has very strong beliefs,” Bradley said. “The players can look to him, and they know there is really no messing around. If he has something to say, it’s going to be very important, and he’s going to stick to his guns. I think they feel that strength.” Grade: B-plus
Move I liked: In need of young, talented depth up front to protect an aging, veteran quarterback in Philip Rivers, the Chargers selected two offensive linemen in the draft — Forrest Lamp in the second round and Dan Feeney in the third round. Both will push for starting spots once training camp begins in six weeks. Pass protection for Rivers has been spotty at times, which has resulted in inconsistent play from the North Carolina State product over the past two years. With Lamp and Feeney in the fold, along with the addition of Russell Okung in free agency, the Chargers should be more solid up front.
Move I didn’t like: In a draft with several talented defensive players at the top of the board, the Chargers chose to go offense in selecting big-bodied receiver Mike Williams with the No. 7 overall pick. Williams has been slowed by a back injury and hopes to get back on the field by training camp. The selection of Williams could pay dividends in the long run, but I thought the Chargers would have been better in the short term in bringing in a talented playmaker like safety Malik Hooker to help the back end defensively. Hooker would have been a great fit in Bradley’s Cover 3 scheme. However, the Chargers did take two safeties later in the draft in Rayshawn Jenkins in the fourth round and Desmond King in the fifth round, so perhaps one of those two works his way into a rotational role.
Biggest question still to be answered in training camp: The key question for the Chargers is whether they can stay healthy. They finished with a league-worst 21 players on injured reserve last season, one of the reasons they finished 5-11 last year. But Lynn got through the team’s offseason program relatively unscathed health-wise. Keenan Allen and Travis Benjamin looked healthy returning from knee injuries, and Jason Verrett is hopeful to be ready for the start of training camp. If the Chargers can figure out a way to keep the team’s impact players healthy during the regular season, they can compete for a wild-card playoff spot in the AFC.
Salary-cap space: $12,415,031 (source: Overthecap.com)
Undrafted rookie free agents signed: P Toby Baker, TE Sean Culkin, C Dillon Deboer, CB Michael Davis, RB Austin Ekeler, RB, LB Nigel Harris, QB Eli Jenkins, K Younghoe Koo, LB Mike Moore, LB James Onwualu, WR Mitchell Paige, WR Andre Patton, CB Ryan Reid, WR Artavis Scott, CB Brandon Stewart, CB Brad Watson.
Unrestricted free agents signed: S Jahleel Addae, RB Kenjon Barner, S Tre Boston, QB Kellen Clemens, TE Jeff Cumberland, DE Melvin Ingram, OT Russell Okung, RB Branden Oliver, DT Damion Square, LS Mike Windt
Players acquired via trade: None