As the dust from the draft finally begins to settle a bit and the Chargers’ 2011 roster gains some additional clarity, there’s nothing like a high-profile trade rumor to stir things up once again. After addressing primarily the defensive side of the football during the three-day draft event in New York City, the Bolts could look to the trade market for an additional weapon on offense.
Disgruntled Carolina Panthers’ receiver Steve Smith has reportedly cleared out his belongings from the team facilities and desires to be traded from the rebuilding Panther franchise. Smith calls California home and has been linked to both the Oakland Raiders and the Chargers as potential destinations for his new NFL home.
It’s hard to imagine the Bolts really going out in search of a player such as Smith in the trade market given the fact that addition potency on offense has to be the furthest thing from their minds at this point. Still the potential risk/reward could be too irresistible to pass up if Smith could be had for a late round conditional draft choice. His production has dipped significantly since the 2008 season, but the revolving door at quarterback for the Panthers has to be considered at least partially at fault for that decline.
There’s no doubt that Smith is past his prime as a dynamic deep threat as he will turn 32 years of age next week. Still there is great value in a speedy slot receiver that could free up some space for tight end Antonio Gates to work over the middle of the field or Vincent Jackson to get over top of the coverage and catch jump balls. V Jack is nearly a mirror image of Smith’s former teammate Muhsin Muhammad who really flourished when the two were together during Carolina’s run to the Super Bowl in 2004. Jackson actually has more speed than Muhammad which could potentially yield even more dividends if the two were to unite in San Diego.
Where the plausibility of this scenario begins to look somewhat foggy is when you consider the fact that General Manager A.J. Smith does not have a track record of dealing for veteran players. Steve Smith also isn’t exactly an A.J. type of player and the Chargers did just add San Diego State wideout Vincent Brown in the third round of this past weekend’s draft. Brown possesses similar attributes to those of Smith and was likely drafted by the team as a potential slot target.
Still the idea of adding a player with Super Bowl experience and a tremendously productive NFL career on his résumé is always an intriguing prospect. Giving Pro Bowl quarterback Philip Rivers another weapon to distribute the ball to can’t possibly be a negative and the Bolts will likely be losing Legedu Naanee in free agency while they still need to re-sign Malcom Floyd.
Bringing in Smith on a one-year deal could be the ideal way to bridge the gap between the departure of some failed draft picks of the past and the promising ones of the future. Getting Smith to show the youngster in Brown the ropes and teach him the subtleties of route running in the NFL could really benefit him in the long run. When a player with 620 career receptions and 52 career touchdowns talks younger players tend to listen and that could be the perfect example for Brown as he makes the transition to the professional ranks.
Although it shouldn’t be a primary concern of the Chargers what the other teams in their division are doing, the fact that the Panthers’ wideout also listed the Oakland Raiders as his other desired landing spot could certainly provide more incentive for pursuing him. The Raiders were a run-based offense in 2010, but they do have a youthful, up and coming receiving corps that could use a veteran presence like Smith in their locker room. Keeping Smith away from the Raiders and preventing the silver and black from gaining any additional traction within the division could provide enough incentive to at least entertain the idea.
Buster Davis has basically been insignificant to the Chargers passing game since arriving via the draft in 2007 and his inability to develop into a contributor has prevented the offense from adding the speedy dimension that they have been looking for in the passing game. Granted Darren Sproles did fill that void out of the backfield at times, but his near certain departure in free agency leaves the team with even less speed on the offensive side of the ball.
It seems highly unlikely that anything will materialize from these rumors of Smith landing with the Chargers, but the addition of a player with his skill set could only be a positive development for Rivers and company. With Vincent Brown now in the fold, the Bolts need to develop him into a viable slot option for multiple wide receiver sets and a player of Smith’s stature could only help expedite that process. If that does come to fruition, scoreboards may need to get some extra light bulbs with the potential explosive nature of the Bolts on offense.
Now it’s your turn. Do you think a player like Steve Smith would fit well in the Chargers’ offense? Does a deal to land Smith seem like something the team’s GM would be willing to do or is it still very far-fetched? Could the signability of Floyd whenever free agency begins determine whether or not the Bolts make a deal like this or would it have little to no impact on the situation? Would Vincent Brown benefit from adding a player like Steve Smith to the roster or would that just give him one more player to jump over on the depth chart? Please fill up the comments section below with your thoughts!
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