The Chargers already multi-layered complication of an offseason took yet another unexpected negative turn late Saturday night when free agent to be wide receiver Legedu Naanee was cited for public intoxication. As if things weren’t bad enough just hearing this news, the details make the incident that much more intolerable from the Bolts’ point of view.
Upon approaching a crime scene in downtown Indianapolis after three in the morning, rather than avoid law enforcement altogether and find another way around the scene, Naanee confronted the officers conducting the investigation. This led to a simple request by the authorities asking him to leave even though they could tell he was clearly under the influence. The incident escalated from bad to worse when Naanee allegedly asked the officer why he was ‘being such an [expletive]’.
Only when faced with no other choices the officer informed the former Bolts wideout that he was under arrest. This then finally prompted Naanee to realize that he should probably head for the hills, but unfortunately the damage had already been done for the free agent to be as he only further exacerbated his problems by adding a resisting arrest charge to his docket.
As ridiculous as this story seems, such an unbelievably mindless act now has to force the Chargers to look elsewhere for help at receiver this offseason.
The team has already informed the league and Vincent Jackson that he will be the designated franchise player for the Bolts in 2011. This is really the only move that the team could make considering the fact that even though he has had his own issues with the law during his career, Jackson is a difference maker on offense and could not be allowed to walk without at least some compensation.
By proclaiming Jackson as their franchise player, San Diego agrees to pay the troubled pass catcher the average of the top five salaries for players at his position throughout the league. The Bolts also protect themselves by stipulating that Jackson is free to negotiate with any of the other 31 NFL teams, but if he agrees to an offer sheet, San Diego retains the right to match that offer or receive two 1st round picks as compensation.
With the Naanee episode throwing yet another wrench into the Chargers already muddled offseason plans, the Bolts have some critical decisions to make further down their receiving ladder. Franchising Jackson and still having veteran Patrick Crayton under contract gives the team two legitimate pass catchers, but they definitely need to add some additional production by further fleshing out their depth chart.
Clearly the Bolts have every intention to get Malcom Floyd signed to a new deal once the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) issues are resolved and put to bed, but that may still be a ways off. This uncertainty leaves fans wondering just what are the team’s plans for continuing to supply quarterback Philip Rivers with legitimate weapons on the outside.
Much like using a first round pick on a running back, taking a receiver in round one has proven to be a very hit or miss prospect. That didn’t stop General Manager A.J. Smith from pulling the trigger on ball carrier Ryan Mathews in last year’s draft nor did it prevent him from selecting Buster Davis in 2007. Neither of those two picks have exactly panned out to this point, but clearly the jury is still out on Mathews.
At any rate, it seems inevitable that the Chargers will need to use at least one selection on a receiver this April, but it would likely not be until the second or third round of the draft proceedings.
Some preliminary thoughts point to another potential boom or bust prospect in former North Carolina Tarheels gridiron star Greg Little. There is no getting around the fact that Little has his fair share of baggage coming into the league after being suspended for the entirety of the 2010 collegiate campaign due to NCAA rules violations, but his 6’3” 220lbs. frame offers a wealth of potential. He has shown the ability to be an amazing red zone target in the past and could make the ideal replacement for V Jack if he moves on to another city following the 2011 season.
Another possibility could promote A.J. Smith’s affinity for small school, under the radar prospects in Division III Mount Union’s Cecil Shorts III. Shorts is attempting to follow in the footsteps of former Mount Union star Pierre Garçon who has really made a name for himself with Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts. With the ground already being broken ahead of Shorts, it’s doubtful that he will be as overlooked as his predecessor coming into the draft. Still a mid to late third round grade could make the 6’0” 190lbs. game-breaker a possibility for the Bolts.
There is still a tremendous amount of dust left to settle with the uncertainty surrounding the league at this point, but the Chargers are definitely neck deep in the scouting process already now in mid-February. Don’t be surprised if they target a receiver to add to their already potent arsenal on the outside in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Now it’s your turn. With the details of Legedu Naanee’s incident now made public, do you expect to see the former Boise State player in San Diego in 2011? What kind of year do you expect from Vincent Jackson given his motivation to get a long-term contract in the near future? Do the Chargers need to look at adding a wide receiver via the draft to replenish their depth chart or can they add some small pieces in free agency to fulfill those needs? What prospects do you foresee the team targeting in the draft if any and in which rounds do you think those players could be landed? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below!
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