Chargers add two free agents to their roster
April 8, 2021
As the Los Angeles Chargers prepare for the NFL draft on April 29th, they continue to scour the free agent market for talent and have added two more key players to their 2021 roster. The Chargers signed cornerback Ryan Smith, who spent the past five seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and added backup quarterback Chase Daniel, who spent last season with the Detroit Lions.
A five-year NFL veteran, Smith has been a special teams staple for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers while also contributing defensively over his professional career. The 2016 fourth-round selection has logged 73 career games played, including 16 starts, and totaled 98 tackles (79 solo), a tackle for loss, an interception and 12 passes defensed.
Smith played in all four playoff games for the Bucs, including the Super Bowl. In the Super Bowl he played 22 snaps on special teams and two snaps on defense. He will likely add depth at cornerback and hopefully help improve the quality of play from the Chargers special teams. Smith signed a one-year contract with the Chargers for $1.5 million, including a $500,000 signing bonus.
Smith played four collegiate seasons at North Carolina Central, finishing his career ranked No. 7 in school history with 263 tackles, including a program-record 168 solo stops. He added seven interceptions and was also a threat in the return game, averaging a school-record 28.1 yards on 14 kickoff returns, running one back for a 95-yard touchdown.
With the signing of Daniel’s, the Chargers have added their backup quarterback to replace Tyrod Taylor, who signed with the Houston Texans. Daniel, who is 34 years of age, is a 12-year veteran of the NFL. His contract with the Chargers will pay him $1.075 million for one season, but the Lions still owe him $1.5 million in guaranteed money, so he will actually make $2.575 million this season.
Being a backup quarterback can be very lucrative in the NFL. As noted by Field Yates of ESPN.com, Daniel has made $38.7 million during his NFL career, despite throwing for only 1,694 passing yards, eight touchdowns, and seven interceptions. He is primarily seen as a mentor to Herbert and has developed a good reputation around the NFL in that role. The Chargers also have 2019 fifth-round pick Easton Stick, whose has seen two offensive snaps in the NFL.
Daniel seems to be a perfect fit for the Chargers. First-year Chargers offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi served as the Saints quarterback coach for Daniel in New Orleans and rookie head coach Brandon Staley was also an assistant with Bears when the veteran was Mitchell Trubisky's backup in Chicago. His knowledge of the offense and the experience he had behind both Drew Brees and Matthew Stafford should help the Chargers young quarterbacks.
The Chargers still have $20.5 million in salary cap space per overthecap.com. The Chargers could add a veteran cornerback or starting left tackle to the roster via free agency before the draft. Those are the two areas on the roster that really need to be resolved, either before or after the draft.
It appears that quarterbacks will be a high priority in the upcoming draft, with as many as four selected in the first two rounds. That might help the Chargers, who are selecting at 13th in the draft. The Chargers would likely enjoy seeing Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell move down the draft board, as well as cornerbacks Patrick Surtain of Alabama and Jaycee Horn of South Carolina. They could also decide to move up for one of these players if the cost is reasonable.