Bolts Should Focus On Building Depth In 2012

Depth is the magic word around Chargers Park this offseason and the Bolts should be in pursuit of it this offseason. Last year’s depleted lineup down the stretch showed just how quickly a rash of injuries can catch up to any squad so insulating the 2012 team with some solid, capable veterans is a must.

Team doctors will be assessing left tackle Marcus McNeill Tuesday and are expected to raise red flags about his health paving the way for the team to release him. Scheduled to count $10.5 million against the cap in 2012, cutting McNeill wouldn’t save that entire amount for the Bolts, but after subtracting the $1.2 million in bonuses that the tackle has already received for his current contract, the club would shave $9.3 million from their bottom line in the coming year with the move.

Jared Gaither was a depth player for the Bolts in 2011, but this coming year will likely be spent as a starter. The Chargers still need to work out a deal with him in order to make that a reality, but after the deed is done with McNeill, look for General Manager A.J. Smith to really amp up the deal talk with Gaither.

Offensive line may not be the most hip water cooler conversation starter, but it is the area of most concern for San Diego given last season’s results. Re-signing center Nick Hardwick is a must at this point as the team continues to groom Colin Baxter who is not yet ready for a full-time role as a starter.

The guard position must be addressed as well with Kris Dielman’s retirement, but fortunately there is a similarly nasty player available in Ben Grubbs. It is likely that Grubbs warrants mid to upper level money among the guard market this offseason, but his ability to block through the whistle and really road-grade in the running game would be a huge addition to this Chargers’ roster.

The team has already added linebacker Demorrio Williams to the roster after the Kansas City Chiefs cut him last week. More linebackers are likely to be targets for the Bolts from the obvious big fish Mario Williams to the less mentioned Ahmad Brooks who found new life with the San Francisco 49ers last season. Adding more capable bodies on defense is a must for a team that really struggled to get to the quarterback or turn opponents over during the 2011 season.

Defensive end is also a spot on the defense that needs more depth and a veteran like Matt Roth from the Miami Dolphins or Cory Redding from the Baltimore Ravens could help solidify a shaky area for the Bolts. Corey Liuget looked great in his rookie season, but that will need to continue to improve if he wants to live up to expectations. Having top-notch veteran depth around him in the locker room as well as on the playing field will only aid in his development and keep him fresh on a play in, play out basis.

An issue that hasn’t been talked about much but could become a pressing issue sooner rather than later is the tight end spot. The Bolts have enjoyed a tremendous run from Antonio Gates as a perennial Pro Bowler, but health concerns make him a bit of a liability heading into the new year. Martellus Bennett may not have the eye-popping numbers that you would hope for from a top notch pass catcher, but he has the physical tools to make some noise in the league and could be a late bloomer in the Bolts’ pass-happy offense.

A player that really has my attention as a possible signing at wide receiver is Robert Meachem who put up some solid statistics as the third or fourth option with the New Orleans Saints. Philip Rivers loves to spread the ball around and since it looks more and more likely that Vincent Jackson is on the way out, Meachem would make a great fit in his place. With Vincent Brown’s development thrown into hyper-speed, the addition of Meachem could help take some pressure off of the youngster and provide Malcom Floyd with a second option to aid him in getting open.

While the big names still remain an outside possibility for the Bolts heading into this free agency period, it seems more likely that the club opts for more bodies to flesh out what has become a relatively thin roster. With plenty of money heading into the signing melee set to begin on Tuesday, there are no excuses left for GM Smith as the club looks forward to 2012. This may very well be a make-or-break year for both he and Head Coach Norv Turner so the roster needs to be tooled to perfection.

Now it’s your turn! Do you see depth as the number one issue haunting the Bolts at this moment or do they need to make one or two big signings rather than five or six smaller ones? Would offensive line be the first spot on your to-do list as the GM or would you focus more resources elsewhere? Is it possible to fix the lack of pass rush and lack of receiving depth without breaking the bank, or does the team need to pursue big-name players to make a real impact? Does the sense of urgency in the front office make this the biggest free agency in both Smith and Turner’s careers or should it be business as usual for the guys in charge? Please fill up the comments section below with your opinions!

March 13, 2012

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Triplook said... Mar 14, 2012, 12:06:00 AM

i stand corrected welcome robert meachem

Anthony Blake said... Mar 14, 2012, 5:50:00 AM

Thanks for FINALLY listening to me A.J.

RaiderHater said... Mar 14, 2012, 8:49:00 AM

 Oh man...I am getting all "boned up" with you talking this way!  Come on AJ, it is time for you to make some amends for the past (yeap he can, sorta)...give us die hard fans something to at least look forward to.  The draft is awhile away, good players are sitting on the market now waiting for your offer (while always cheap).  Last I heard VJ could become a Buc....I think that's great, no chance of a ring any time soon there so best to ya VJ!  And welcome to the party Meachem!!!

Pete Spinning said... Mar 14, 2012, 10:10:00 AM

See you in New Orleans, bitches!!! Have fun losing in Tampa, V-WHACKS!!!

Nothing would give me more pleasure than for Meachem to have a breakout year, and for there to be a ton of stories about how the Saints should never have let him go. Just like the Sproles & Brees stories! Also, to go to the Superbowl, and win with the receiver THEY cut, in THEIR house!!! That would be SWEET revenge!

Oh yeah... JUST SIGNED GAITHER!!!! Whut Whut!!

Mark Anders said... Mar 14, 2012, 12:33:00 PM

Great information! I find myself reading your blog quite often! Keep up the good work.

Triplook said... Mar 14, 2012, 1:10:00 PM

jarrett johnson------awesome--from devastation to bliss

Jjamesnaz said... Mar 14, 2012, 2:27:00 PM

Any news about bringing Garay back?  Or is the plan to go with Cam Thomas?

RaiderHater said... Mar 14, 2012, 2:31:00 PM seem as excited as I am!!!  Damn AJ is actually getting some things right WTF!?  Now Gaither a.k.a Shaq of Football...geez i gotta be alone for a minute :)

Triplook said... Mar 14, 2012, 11:17:00 PM

laron mcclain another steal the guy is a beast

arnie said... Mar 15, 2012, 12:10:00 AM

" i don't need a Fullback in my system".... Norv Turners words upon his first year as HC in San Diego.
 i see with addition of McClain that statement hasn't been working out to well, while running the small backs up the middle.

Pete Spinning said... Mar 15, 2012, 11:14:00 AM

Good call, Arnie! Eat them words, Norv!!! We haven't had a good one since Lorenzo Neal!

Pete Spinning said... Mar 15, 2012, 11:17:00 AM

I really hope we get a good pass rusher! That could change everything. Are we still in the market for another wide out in Fee Agency? Maybe Lloyd, or Eddie Royal? Or are we doing that in the draft? I think we need ONE more good receiver... preferably one with experience. I'm not sure if Floyd, Meachem, and Brown are the complete compliment that Philip deserves.

Triplook said... Mar 15, 2012, 12:44:00 PM

we got one now

arnie said... Mar 15, 2012, 1:06:00 PM

thanks pete. But the reason for that statement is, i like to remind people "HOW" the chargers got to this point, before we start drinking the Kool-Aid of ..."great job with FA's, AJ"... nonsense. The acquisitions he's made are good. But VJ is not here, another pro-bowl veteran that walked and we go nothing in return, because of M.O.N.E.Y. Aj got Mechem, good for him. but he's not here because he's a superstar WR. he's here because he comes C.H.E.A.P. this is has been the MO of the Chargers. But i digress. to my point of Fullbacks. 
Hester was AJ guy, that he traded up to get. head scratcher to the rest of us. Hester has been underutilized, and put into a position he was undersized for. and now the Chargers want to bring him back as a "special teamer". what? let me put this in perspective. McClain was available long before he became a FA from the chiefs. but The Chargers had Hester, which they traded up to get, and was under contract. but instead of seeing they needed an up grade at the FB position, they let McClain go to the chiefs. 
Now, they signed him while he's in the "twilight" of his career, oh, and comes cheap. Also if you haven't noticed, Aj has cleared the house, of any Backs that could challenge his pick, Mathews, for the starting job. another point they now have a guy that can take the bulk of the bumps and bruises, also a pro-bowler, and help Ryan realize his full potential. Food for thought, LT had the same success when Lo'Neal was in front of him. Then seemed to mysteriosly get injured when he Lo"Neal wasn't. Mathews seemed to get "dinged up" without a quality FB in front of him., we'll see how this plays out. in the mean time, put the Kool-Aid down, unitl after the season.

peace out

Pete Spinning said... Mar 15, 2012, 1:58:00 PM

I hear ya Arnie. I have been a fan too long to get too excited about free agency, or a draft.

However, Kool-aid is all we have to drink as Charger fans... it's rarely been any other way. I just got tired of getting discouraged & bitter all the time, when we don't win. That's not what football is about for me(or ever has been about). It's supposed to be fun, and exciting! So, I try to act accordingly (even if everyone in the organization of the team I have LOVED since I was 6, is an idiot... and make poor decisions every year!). Otherwise, I would probably be a band-wagoner... and be a Packers fan, or a Steeler fan, or buy a Tom Brady jersey or something..... hahaha! No way!!!

I'm from SD, and will be a Charger fan forever... even if we continue to lose. AND, I'll do it with a smile on my face!!!! I LOVE Chargers Football... one of the only things I look forward to all year.

I just hope that we have a good season, and make the playoffs this year = )

By the way? Where's FB Hansen at? Curious to see how he would weigh in on all this.

Pete Spinning said... Mar 15, 2012, 2:00:00 PM

Wow dooder.... I was just agreeing with you.  ; )

Try to stay positive, Arnie! I know it's rough, and we all know how we got here, one way or another.

RaiderHater said... Mar 15, 2012, 3:31:00 PM

 YEAH PETE Standing up for Da Team!!!  I feel the same freaking way....once a fan always a know "band wagoners" come and they go with any Team....BUT to be a Charger fan for ever or even a few years, well you gotta be a little crazy, gotta have low expectations, are easily excited, probably an optimist, great at making up excuses on the fly, no doubt used to abuse, no way are you not a consumer of adult beverages, you probably are a betting person (because you are always looking to bet for the Bolts - odds are fair at best lately), you love the challenge of explaining "why" we lost and "how come we will win again" over and over and over again, you have a collection of Bolt stuff from forever ago to today (heck some still fits you too!), and for sure you HATE the RAIDERS - CHIEFS + BRONCOS, and lastly you love football!!!
  And YEAH WTF is FBHansen, he has not been on this blog in some time....perhaps he is gearing up for some Padres Ball???  Now there is a Team - see ,,,sick in the head I tell Ya!


arnie said... Mar 16, 2012, 12:08:00 AM

Oh i know. it wasn't directed at you, more like a general statement...
But on the positive side i'm not bitter. this is the action from Aj that i've been wanting. it's a shame that he has to get this motivated, in free agency, after he almost lost his job.

to be blunt, VJ is gone. i'm over it. all i want is my Charger team to win a Superbowl Championship. let Aj get the players, and Norv to coach them to it. But, i just don't get to hyped on "potential" anymore. we can talk about those FA and that draft pick but, we just won't know, until they play.

arnie said... Mar 16, 2012, 12:09:00 AM

we'll see...because that's all we can do.

arnie said... Mar 16, 2012, 12:26:00 AM

i agree with you. i'll never be anything but a Charger fan. but that's where the agreeing stops. see i'm of the mind set we don't have to drink the Kool-Aid. we don't have to buy what they're selling.  Example? stop telling me things are going to get better, and do it. We got Double J. great. but i didn't know who he was until the Chargers signed him. i know Mario Williams was a FA, and i think Bart Scott was as well. did the Chargers make a offer to these guys???? Didn't we need an "impact player" at OLB? we'll see if Dub is that guy. i hope he is.
However, i also don't translate telling the "truth", to being bitter or a fair weather fan. the Chargers played like an 8-8 team last season, and a 9-7 team the year before that. it was heart breaking, but i still watched and kept believing they would turn things around. the truth is it didn't turn out that way. it was my hope they would address the issues and make changes, they made some and the team went 8-8.
as long as i'm spending my cash and supporting my team, i will "always" voice my concerns.


Triplook said... Mar 16, 2012, 8:04:00 PM

at least we are filling holes--we got the line stacked we got a MONSTER for the backfield--we got 2 receivers for phillip to make shine--we have a MONSTER lb--and the draft is still to come--matthews.mcclain,hester,summers,andtolbert in the backfield sounds scary----meachem,floyd,royal,brown+maybe goodman as receiving core sounds tight---who knows maybe tutu will get cut in carolina and we can bring him back---compared to years past this free agency is like manna from heaven AJs job should be in jeapordy every year

Triplook said... Mar 16, 2012, 8:05:00 PM

i have a feeling we get tolbert back

Pete Spinning said... Mar 19, 2012, 8:29:00 PM

Well... He DID say he was officially done if Norv and AJ came back. Maybe he will like this comment if he is still lurking in the shadows... muahahaha!

Pete Spinning said... Mar 19, 2012, 8:55:00 PM

I love it!!! Go Arnie! You aren't a fair weather fan, dude... That wasn't wat I was saying... I guess I meant that I might as well just be a bandwagoner, if I wasn't a Bolts fan, cuz that's who I am, too... just like you....or you wouldn't be as insane as to come onto this site and put up with all this crap. Hahahaha! You were here before I was, I'm pretty sure, right?!!! Lol... I'm just the bullshit new guy.

I  been around for many a Chargers season, and I appreciate your wisdom. It's nice to have someone who has been paying attention to the little shit. I wish I could say I did that more, but I JUST got interested in the draft a few years ago. You definitely have a point, and I completely understand, and feel that way too. But, let's hope that a combination of shaking things up, Philip proving that last year was a fluke, Norv finally knocking that "What's going on here?" look off his Chevy Chase, and AJ making SOME sort of a splash in FA .. is enough to propell us to the promise land. Realistically, we need a pass rusher... I want Avril... some would disagree. But, we need a strong safety, or a corner back in the draft (in which case we could start to think about making Jammer the SS next year). Let's give AJ a chance to right the ship (cuz he's here for one more year, regardless). I'm not sucking his D**K just yet, but he's been sorta sneaky so far. I don't think he's done. And, if he DOESN'T realize that fans are looking for a BIG TIME PASS RUSHER, than he's an idiot... which we already knew.

Either way, I hope that at the end of the season, we'll be popping champagne... win, lose, or draw!

Pete Spinning said... Mar 19, 2012, 9:05:00 PM

Doh.. lost him.. that sucks!!! But... he was the least of our problems. Hardwick or Gaither leaving would have been FAR worse. I don't think back up running back is the issue this year. Let's get durty, yo! They released Volek for a reason.. they needed another million for a better player!

Pete Spinning said... Mar 19, 2012, 9:09:00 PM

Damn skippy! We won't know until this is over. I hope we're not crying into our hands, like we were at the end of last season, or when Norv was retained. I hope Spanos knows what he did htere ; )

Pete Spinning said... Mar 19, 2012, 9:16:00 PM

You need to take it down a notch, Mr Boned Up! But, I share your enthusiasm.. Kerplunk (That's the splash AJ should make at pass rusher).

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