Culver City Observer -

By Bill Seals
Sports Reporter 

LA Chargers Look to Upgrade Roster


Jevone Moore

Chargers running back Melvin Gordon: 113 yard touchdown vd Seahawks in 2018

The Los Angles Chargers will kick-off the 2019 season, which officially starts on March 13th, with the official start of NFL free agency, which also starts March 13th. The Chargers will be looking at upgrading their roster while attempting to re-sign their key free agents.

Among the key free agents that the Chargers would like to re-sign are safety Adrian Phillips, wide receiver Tyrell Williams, defensive tackle Darius Philon and nose tackle Damion Square. The NFL salary cap is $188 million for 2019 and the Chargers have about $23 million in free agency to spend, which is not a lot.

This is a look at the Charger position groups: Quarterback: A backup is needed to Philip Rivers. Geno Smith was the backup in 2018. There are very slim pickings in free agency, especially considering the amount of money the Chargers can spend in free agency. Cardale Jones will likely be the backup at quarterback and the team will probably look at the draft for additional help.

Running Back: The Chargers are deep at this position, with Melvin Gordon, Austin Ekeler, Justin Jackson and Detrez Newsome. All four contributed during the 2018 season. Gordon is a free agent after the 2019 season. The fullback is Derek Watt.

Wide Receiver: The Chargers could lose Williams to free agency. Travis Benjamin is 29 years old and in the last year of his contract that pays $5.2 million. A couple of free agent options for the Chargers are Green Bay Packer wide receiver Randall Cobb and New England Patriot free agent Cordarrelle Patterson.

Cobb is 28 years old and is more of a slot receiver, but he can line up anywhere. He has 41 career touchdown receptions. Patterson is 26 years old and a top kickoff returner. He is also versatile, with 10 career receiving touchdowns, 7 career rushing touchdowns and 6 career kickoff returns for touchdowns.

Tight End: Hunter Henry will return next season after missing the 2018 season with a knee injury. Antonio Gates will be 39 years old, but he still looks like he can play another season. The future Hall-of-Famer caught 28 passes in 2018. Virgil Green is a good blocker and added another 19 receptions. The Chargers will likely address this position through the NFL Draft.

Offensive line: The Chargers need to add depth and possibly replace a couple of starters. Among the free agents the Chargers could pursue are Right Tackle Daryl Williams, a former All-Pro tackle coming off a knee injury. Rodger Saffold of the Los Angeles Rams would also be a nice addition at right guard.

The Chargers are expected to give 2017 second round pick Forrest Lamp every opportunity to win a starting job at one of the guard positions. Lamp missed the entire 2017 season with a knee injury and struggled last season to regain his form.

Defensive Line: The Chargers need a run stuffer on the defensive line. Sheldon Richardson of the Minnesota Vikings, a 2014 pro bowl selection, is on the market at the age of 28. In 2018, he had 75 tackles and 4.5 sacks.

Two-time All-Pro Muhammed Wilkerson of the Packers would also be a nice addition at defensive tackle. The defensive end position is a position of strength for the Chargers but adding depth through the NFL draft should be a priority.

Linebacker: Anthony Barr will be a name that comes up immediately at the strongside linebacker position. Barr is a four-time Pro Bowl player that played at Loyola high school in Los Angeles and UCLA. At the right price, he makes a lot of sense for the Chargers. Barr is only 26 years old.

Another free agent linebacker prospect could be Clay Matthews of the Packers. Matthews is a six-time pro bowl player and a former PFWA NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

Like Barr, he is also from Southern California, having played football at Agoura high school and USC. Matthews is an edge rusher, but he also played inside linebacker in 2014-2015 for the Packers. Both Barr and Matthews are playmakers, something that has been lacking in the past from the Chargers linebacking group.

Defensive Secondary: Another position of strength for the Chargers. The Chargers may need a cornerback if they lose both restricted free agent Trevor Williams and Jason Verrett. Both have started and played well for the Chargers, but both have also struggled with injuries. The secondary is strong enough that the loss of these two players could be made up through the draft.


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