Chargers Make Moves As Free Agency Opens


Just as the gates of free agency prepared to swing open, the Chargers made some bold, and surprising, moves; the release of Jamal Williams, trading Antonio Cromartie, and tendering Darren Sproles all come as a bit of a shock considering the team's offseason needs. At this juncture it would appear as though the Chargers' holes are as clear as ever, and the team looks prepared to head towards the draft with obvious needs and a tremendous amount of pressure to remain championship contenders.

REPLACING JAMAL WILLIAMS A DAUNTING TASK

Admittedly, the release of Jamal Williams comes as a considerable surprise. Likely a financially driven decision, it nonetheless caused more than a few to scratch their heads. Why jettison one of the best and most dominant defensive players on your team? Why let such a respected leader leave a locker room that would certainly benefit from the maturity and professionalism. While there is a chance the Chargers could re-sign Williams as a free agent, it risky proposition.

Conversely, the Chargers have extended offers to journeymen and aging vets such as Ian Scott, Travis Johnson, Antonio Garay, and Alphonso Boone. While these guys played admirably in 2009, they best profile as backups. The Chargers are still looking for a starting impact player along the defensive line.

Any way you look at it, the Chargers must address the defensive line in the draft (or free agency) or risk having an even worse defensive unit in 2010. It takes a special type of player to play in a three-man front, and the Chargers are hoping they can find one.


CHARGERS MUST VOID LEFT BEHIND BY ANTONIO CROMARTIE

Antonio Cromartie lost a tremendous amount of favor with the fans last year, and it appears that Chargers shared in that sentiment. Cromartie's lack of toughness and want-to didn't sit well with fans of the collision sport that is pro football.

Cromartie may have shied away from contact at just about every opportunity, but he still posses freakish athletic ability and can be a very good man-to-man cover corner. Cornerbacks like Cromartie are valued commodities, and while the Chargers seem to be ready to replace him with Antoine Cason, they'll now need to find at least a nickel corner.

Considering AJ Smith's draft history, he tends to place a high value on cornerbacks and may look to take one early.


CHARGERS IN THE MARKET FOR RUNNING BACKS

"We're going to be looking for running backs," AJ Smith proclaims. Not that it was any secret, of course. But as free agency starts and the draft approaches, if there was any question the Chargers would be shopping for backs AJ Smith's latest admission put those doubts to rest.

As of this writing, the Chargers have not signed or visited with any free agent running backs, and with each passing day their options dwindle. Thomas Jones remains a possibility, as do Larry Johnson, Willie Parker, Justin Fargas, and Jamal Lewis. But each of the aforementioned running backs is upwards of 30 years old and in the twilight of their careers. The Chargers would likely only sign one of these veterans to a one or two year deal as they look to find their long-term solution in the draft.

Having Darren Sproles back in the mix is good news for the offense and return game, but the Chargers don't appear to have changed their perception of the speedy #43; Sproles will continue to be the team's primary return man while serving as a change-of-pace running back and catching the ball out of the backfield. The team likely wont increase his carries by any significant number if they can avoid it.


YOUR TAKE

How did you react to the news of Jamal Williams' release? Between a $6 million franchise tag and a $7 million restricted tender, have the Chargers overpaid Darren Sproles over the past two years? Was getting a future 2nd or 3rd round draft pick good enough in exchange for Antonio Cromartie? Are you confident the San Diego Chargers front office has a plan in place to win a Super Bowl? Give your take in the comments section below!


March 6, 2010

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23 comments:

Anonymous said... Mar 7, 2010, 2:46:00 AM

Chargers would not be in this mess with RBs if they kept Turner instead of LT. Both backs would have benefited with that move but thats ancient history. I disagree with them letting go of Crow but lets move on.. I hear this draft is deep. It makes no sense in keeping Jamals salary with so many pressing needs with the Defense. (No disrespect intended) I bet Chargers are hoping someone bits with one of four opt tenders and so do i. So that they can have better angle in this comming draft. Lets quit messing around and draft Thomas Jones or Saints ,Pierre and Porter.

lighting 72

Anonymous said... Mar 7, 2010, 5:22:00 AM

Here we go again, dismissing all of our talent and not signing anyone in return. I wanted to get rid of Cromartie also, but not getting anything for him out of this years draft? Really? All the hype about this years draft being so great, about our team's window of opportunity running low, and we trade him for a 3rd rounder in the 2011 draft??? Seriously?!?! And why haven't we tried to pursue Thomas Jones? You tendered Sproles at $7 million when he's not even an every down back? You released Jamal Williams? Didn't not having him last year and trying to fill his position teach you how valuable he is? And to make things even worse, you give Norv Turner a 3 year extension after he loses in the first playoff game? Come on now, isn't that a mirror image of what happened with Marty and he got fired? Wake up Spanos family! Make some changes in the front office so we can win a title. AJ Smith is not getting it done. Norv is too passive to get it done. Sign Thomas Jones. Stop giving away our good players for peanuts.

Jeff Williams said... Mar 7, 2010, 7:58:00 AM

I'm not exactly the president of the AJ Smith fan club, but so far I don't have a lot of problems with the Chargers recent moves. I think he got the best deal he could get for Cro, who will probably end up being worth a 2nd. Dumping Jamal stung because I love the guy, but $6-million is too much for a player who has been this prone to injury prone for a few years now. Hopefully they make a move on Sproles, because $7-million is way too much for that guy. There are a lot of good players on the market that we are missing out on. I would love to bring an experienced CB or RB in, but that's not the AJ way.

Anonymous said... Mar 7, 2010, 10:38:00 AM

I agree that cutting Jamal was a financially motivated decision. I would put the odds at 50-50 that that Chargers resign him to a one-year contract for a lot less money. Getting a 2nd/3rd round pick in 2011 I think was good value for Cromartie. Generally, teams are reluctant to trade draft picks, and the Chargers had little bargaining power because they had already made it clear that they wanted to get rid of Cro. It's reminiscent of the scenario where the Raiders traded Moss, but they only got a 6th rounder if I remember correctly.

Look for the Chargers to package multiple picks to move up in the 2nd round. This extra pick gives them more flexibility to do that--they have some big holes to fill in the first few rounds: DL, RB, OT, CB

Anonymous said... Mar 7, 2010, 1:13:00 PM

CHARGER OWNERS HAVE COME AND GONE. COACHES HAVE COME AND GONE. PLAYERS HAVE COME AND GONE. SPORTS WRITERS AND TV BROADCASTERS HAVE COME AND GONE..THEY ALL HAVE MADE MONEY..BUT THE FAN ONLY GETS A WINNER OR LOOSER.NO MONEY....AND, AS A TRIED FAN AND HAVING WATCHED THE CHARGERS SINCE 1961 WHEN THE CHARGERS MOVED FROM L A TO SAN DIEGO...WELL, TO HEAR THAT OLD SAYING....WAIT TIL NEXT YEAR GETS A LITTLE MORE THAN OLD. THE CHARGERS DID WIN THE OLD AFL CHAMPIONSHIP IN 1963. THATS THE ONLY YEAR THE CHARGERS LAST GAME OF THE YEAR WAS WITH A WIN. IF I COUNT RIGHT, THAT WAS 47 YEARS AGO....BACK THEN, THERE NO WAY I THOUGHT THE SAN DIEGO CHARGERS WOULD HAVE WITHOUT A SUPERBOWL CHAMPIONSHIP...SO IF YOU DO NOT MIND..THIS OLD MAN WILL GIVE UP...ITS TO LATE....I'M TIRED AND WILL NOT BE ON THE FACE OF THIS EARTH THAT MANY MORE YEARS....ITS BETTER I ENJOY FISHING WITH MY GRANDCHILDREN....YOU MIGHT SAY, I WANT TO BE WITH REAL WINNERS. SINCERELY, JIMMIE WAYNE

Luigi_880 said... Mar 8, 2010, 2:37:00 PM

i think that it will be great to have jamal lewis or willie parker

Anonymous said... Mar 8, 2010, 4:45:00 PM

it is such a sad state of the Chargwers with AJ and Nor running the team one is such an egomaniac and the other is a wimp that is afraid of his own shadow. This the year for cleaning house and getting nothing in return. Oh wait that is the same every year. There is no way sproles is worth the money he got last year and there is no way he is worth more. Hopefully somme else will sign him. hahaha Fat chance that happening now. Cutting williams had to be done just for his safety sake, since he has been injuried every year for the last 4, but they should have had someone already in place to take over for him. another super move by aj, mr. egomaniac. The running backs thatare available in the draft are good but are they as good as LT? Lt couldn't stay with the way they treated him all these years. What a waste of a HOF. cro was and is a p-ssyand the jets will find out soon enough. cro had to go, should have traded him 2 years ago. wait another year to see if this team can make it to the super bowel. It got to change, so get rid of wimp and egomaniac and see what happens!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said... Mar 8, 2010, 5:39:00 PM

I'm afraid old "All Caps" JIMMY WAYNE is correct. What torments the Chargers most and longest is their p*ss-poor management. Dean Spanos is simply incompetent, and all other shortcomings (despite a nice 5-6 years) in a generation have come from that. Hell, the "San Diego" version of the Chargers may never reach a Super Bowl, much less win it. So 2010 is a rebuilding year, and grandchildren DO have it all over anything to do with the Chargers.
But since I don't have any..., regarding the Chargers current needs:
#1 is another cornerback - the new rules greatly favor the passing game, and nothing is more frustrating than scoring only to watch the other team effortlessly pass their way back and score while picking on one defender. So despite A.J.'s smokescreens, a CB is IT (and SS too!).
#2 is an offensive Tackle - keeping Rivers upright and healthy is the Bolts ONLY hope for playoff contention next year, never mind the mirage of a running attack. Did I mention that Rivers' is slow?
#3 is a great Defensive interior lineman for the 3-4; Good luck there...
Sooo-o-o, with the departure of a sure HOF back L.T., the one-hit wonder Cromartie, the under-utilized All-Pro Osgood, a big blocking TE, and only a tiny, dangling Sproles as your entire corp of proven running backs, yet hoping to still trade him; the Chargers are "iffy" at best. Add to the mix that they have an aged long-snapper, a proven head-case kicker, and a potentially decrepid Merriman, a porous defensive line and don't have the VERY important left tackle signed to a long-term deal yet; and you can just color the Chargers desperate.
There will be no Super Bowl win again next year kiddies. Count on it. It's time to go shopping for the grand kids or take up fishing, because another generation of Charger mismanagement has their tower tipping. Look out beloooooooooooooooow! I'm just sayin'.

Anonymous said... Mar 8, 2010, 9:02:00 PM

Yeah getting Marcus Mason is way more Chargers-like. No Thomas Jones or Chester Taylor etc here.

AJ Smith also said on 1090 that RB is the biggest priority with the departure of LT and Bennett along with uncertainty that Sproles will be back. AJ said that he wants Sproles back. Other teams can make Sporles an offer that we will chose not to match--AJ will take the picks and run if that is the case. More likely would be a trade scenario that AJ would pull the trigger on. This could be very likely if sproles isnt willing to do a long term deal on AJ's terms.

JMZ

Anonymous said... Mar 8, 2010, 11:36:00 PM

The issue is that Spanos is trying to build a championship team with a light wallet. He doesn't need to bring in big names all the time like Dan Snyder from the redskins because that doesn't get a team anywhere. however, I do think its necessary to pick a free agent runningback that can grind it out and share carries with a rookie who will be the long term replacement. If we have an all rookie backfield we will be number 32 in rushing this year instead of number 31. as far as defense goes, ill bet that we get a nose tackle in the first round. someone that none of us has really heard of and we will all be thinking runningback but theyll wait to get some more no namers in later rounds

Anonymous said... Mar 9, 2010, 4:48:00 AM

Having lived through the indelible misery of "GM draft genius" Bobby Beathard's time in San Diego (see: Ryan Leaf and every player we drafted from Stephen Foster U.), I see disturbing parallels between his tenure here and A.J. Smith's (i.e. some notable successes with longshots picked from the bargain bin, surrounded by numerous failures with wasted high draft picks (See: Davis, Cromartie, Hester) and whiffs (2009 - passing on All-Pro rookies LB Clay Mathews and FS Jairus Byrd [both needs] for Larry English, 2008 - passing on All-Pro players WR DeSean Jackson and RB Ray Rice for Antoine Cason, 2007 – #1 pick WR Craig “Buster” Davis, who’s still M.I.A., and 2006's one-hit wonder Cromartie [who we are thrilled to get rid of in 2010], and the whiff of the decade; 2003’s passing on x5 Pro-Bowl Safety Troy Polamalu while picking the forgotten DB posse of Sammy Davis, Drayton Florence, and Terrence Kiel. So despite a goldmine of undrafted free agents that year (Stephen Cooper and All-Pro’s Gates, Dielman, and Osgood [who just left town too]), I have to wonder. There is a disturbing pattern forming here, especially when looking at draft choices of linemen; despite A.J.’s preference for “looking them in the eye” (i.e. soul) at combines and claiming to always already being “aware” of any and all players “out there”. A.J. is starting to remind me of the fallible man behind the Wizard of Oz front; more sizzle than steak or all hat and no cowboy. It will be interesting to watch what happens with 2009’s Louis Vasquez, Vaughn Martin, or Tyronne Green (RB Gartrell Johnson is already gone) and all the rest, especially now that Buddy Nix is gone too.

Jeff said... Mar 9, 2010, 5:15:00 AM

A.J. you must go letting people out the door with nothing in return is not doing your job. Drew Brees,Michael Turner,LT, etc. You have every chance of going after a Willis McGahee or someone else stacked like we were with L.T. and Turner but you don't spend money in FA. You cant draft and you cant get along with coaches, players or win championships. SO WHY ARE YOU HERE. WAKE UP DEANO AND DUMP THIS MORAN! He's a legion in his own mind. Stand away from him because he might levitate and kick you in the face.

Mark said... Mar 9, 2010, 2:23:00 PM

Could it be possible that we may even get a bag of peanuts if we trade Merriman??!! Based upon AJ's previous moves, it will be for a 4th rounder in 2012 and a 3rd Round in 2013. Brilliant!!

If we trade Merriman, it will be "light out" at any chance of winning playoff games. If not healthy, Merriman is an emotional leader that know s how to rally the troops. And I think next year he will be even better.

Mark said... Mar 9, 2010, 2:25:00 PM

one more note, WHAT are we going to do with 800 pound gorilla in the room?? NATE KAEDING! Sure he's great during the season when the pressure is off, but the master choke-artist in the playoffs.

We NEED to trade this clown or pay to have him see a good sports shrink!!

Mark said... Mar 9, 2010, 2:36:00 PM

Out of all the re-read running backs mentioned on these boards, the one who is most intriguing is Tom Jones. I can't believe some folks think that Jamal Lewis (an injured slow, brontosaurus dinosaur) and Willie Parker (flash-in-a-pan) would be good additions. I'm not surprised that horn-dog with 20 kids Travis Henry wasn't mentioned! I bet he would be desperate to play and earn in order to get the child support lawyers off his but. Also NO!! Larry Johnson. His clubhouse cancer is worse than Cro's.

Rob Zepeda said... Mar 9, 2010, 2:38:00 PM

Thomas Jones ended up signing with the Chiefs today - at this point I don't see any options on the free agent market

Mark said... Mar 9, 2010, 2:43:00 PM

oooops, ignore my previous post in regards to Travis Henry.
Dudes in the Federal Pen due to trafficking coke for at least the next three years!!

Mark said... Mar 9, 2010, 2:45:00 PM

thanks for update Rob. Now, excuse me as I reach for a bottle of Mylanta.........

Ed said... Mar 10, 2010, 8:24:00 PM

You know what? Everyone says get rid of this guy than that guy. But when they do ,they all start crying & complaining. Let's all man up. This isn't time to be afraid. We got all kind of money saved now, so we can sign some people. We got our draft picks except one. There is a bunch of RB's.Alot of CB,S, DT/NT there is great chance we will get one.OL & DL we will get our share. Didn't we play without Jamal Williams last year? How many games did we win? Alright than. Alot undrafted players will come to San Diego, knowing that they will have better chance to make it here. Remember Gates! Ther are some teams that are signing these free agents but they are all over 30 yrs old. Remember when the Chargers signed Unitas,Deacon Jones, Tim Rossivich ..etc. They had a terrible season. So lets all wait to see what unfolds in the comming days. Comon true Charger Fans! Hang tough, we are rebuilding & competeing at same time. Keep the faith, Charger Nation!!

Anonymous said... Mar 10, 2010, 8:28:00 PM

Here we go a again. Non believers who still want to be Charger Fan, yet they hold on their fears from the past. They are going for their 4th division title, the Front Desk must being some thing right.

Anonymous said... Mar 10, 2010, 11:42:00 PM

As cliches go, "Past is prologue" is as good as any, and when it comes to the Chargers, only a fool would not make note of their failings. But you're also right in saying they've won 3 division titles in a row (never mind that it's been a horribly weak division those years), but what I think gnaws at frustrated Charger fans most is the belief that one of this franchises best cycles has basically run it's course, but we're still without a Super Bowl win! Will we have to wait another 10-15 years for a reasonable chance? Possibly, but with Rivers and a good corp of receivers, in the modern game we'll at least have a chance to reach the playoffs again, and from there anythings possible, right?!? Hell, the other contenders could all have plane crashes next year (hey, it could happen). But lately, there's no doubt the Chargers have seen a lot more proven football talent LEAVE their roster than come ONTO it. If A.J. can muster another team next year that reaches the final four or goes to the Super Bowl, I'll kneel and kiss his feet at Qualcomm Stadium.
JLM

Jeff said... Mar 13, 2010, 5:47:00 AM

Are you kidding A.J.? WE got rid of what we needed, should of included #93 as part of your house cleaning he's a bust and you know it. Either way we have picked up a broken down corner, and a 3-4 string RB to help shore up the worse passing attack and run game in the NFL. You should just give L.T. a 2 year deal at a reduced price and let him retire as a charger. Your going to pay some rookie at least that , you wont even know if he can complete. There was no run blocking last year. On 80% of L.T. one yard gains he had three guys tackling him in the back field. He's washed up because he cant shake three guys that weren't blocked? You never asked him to throw a RB pass all year. No imagination in the run game is what happen not L.T. losing a step, its you A.J. you are a legion in your own mind.

Eddie said... Mar 13, 2010, 6:29:00 PM

WE ARE A PASSING TEAM NOW!! ONE MORE TIME. WE ARE A PASSING TEAM NOW!!! Now that being said, lets talk about L.T., he always broke 2 or 3 runs per game for long yardage. Thats how RBs like him get over 100 yds per game. When Brees was here he wasn't has sharp as he is now. Thats why L.T. got all touches. So it makes sense that the Chargers & L.T. go their seperate ways. Each one looking for their own way to what thry want.

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