AJ Smith is possessed...or he was kidnapped and replaced with an imposter...or maybe he just realized the Chargers haven't been that good. Whatever the reason is, the Chargers finally made significant moves in the free agent market. Will that be enough to put our Bolts back into Super Bowl contention? Meet the new players who may or may not make that difference.
Robert Meachem: Based on his career with the New Orleans Saints, it's difficult to surmise if the Chargers signed their new number-one wide receiver in Meachem, or if they found someone just good enough to be in the mix. It seems that Meachem has always had the potential to be great, but has yet to consistently live up to expectations. He couldn't be "The Man" in New Orleans; can he finally break out in San Diego?
Eddie Royal: Royal has wide receiver potential, but has largely made his mark as a punt returner. Because of a combination of poor special teams play in 2010 and a lack of a true return specialist in 2011, AJ knew the team had to find some talent to fill that role. In comes Royal, the former Bronco who might surprise some people with a QB like Philip Rivers throwing to him...that's if he can find his way into the wide receiver rotation.
Le'Ron McClain: I love McClain as a fullback. He's a decent blocker, and before he left Baltimore he proved he could carry the ball for more than 1-yard at a time (in fact, this guy ran for over 900-yards in 2008). While I love McClain, I don't fully understand this move. All I've ever heard about Norv Turner's offense is that fullbacks are not important. That's why Jacob Hester has filled that fullback role for the last couple of years- it was a position that didn't really matter. Did Turner suddenly change the way he views the running game? Is McClain being seen as more of a ball-carrying short-yardage kind of guy? Should be interesting to see how the offense unfolds with McClain in the mix.
Jarret Johnson: Johnson was quoted as saying he has been mentioned so often as one of the most underrated players in the NFL, there is no way he could still be underrated. However you rate him, Johnson is a solid defender who will make this defense a lot better. His pass rush stats aren't going to impress anyone, but he kills it in most every other facet of the game. And don't be surprised if he gets a few more sacks this year in a redefined role with the Bolts.
Charlie Whitehurst: Clipboard Jesus us back! I don't think anyone will ever again see Whitehurst as a starting QB in the NFL, so let's all hope that the Chargers' offensive line is that much better this year. Don't be surprised to see the Chargers draft a QB they actually keep this year.
Atari Bigby: Low risk, low reward...Bigby has some experience, and can't be worse than last year's strong safety. You have to assume that AJ will go safety with one of the first two picks. And my money is on AJ giving up too much to move up in the second and grab Harrison Smith.
Demorrio Williams: Consider this a special teams addition with a lot of upside. I think Williams could add something positive to the inside linebacker rotation, including experience that can only help youngsters Donald Butler and Jonas Mouton.
I left free agent players resigned by the Chargers off the list, but signing guys like Nick Hardwick and Jared Gaither were as important as bringing in some new blood. It sounds like the Chargers are currently focused on finding a backup running back- that, or holding out hope that Mike Tolbert will find his way back to San Diego- while also focusing on retaining role players like Jacob Hester and Tommy Harris.
How do you like the Chargers' free agent haul? Sound off in the comments section below!
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