Loaded roster, drafted well, endless talent: Those are all phrases used to describe the Los Angeles Chargers over the past few seasons.
General manager Tom Telesco has done a good job of bringing in homegrown talents like Keenan Allen, Joey Bosa, Derwin James and Desmond King; but injuries and an overall lack of execution have plagued the franchise.
With arguably the most important offseason the team has faced in quite some time, signs point to changes being made in multiple areas. A core that has been the same for a number of seasons is bound to break up as we head into what could be a new era for a franchise still finding a new identity.
THREE CONTRACTS TO RENEW
Hunter Henry, TE
Good, young tight ends are the new trend and can be a quarterback’s best friend. While Hunter Henry's production may not have been as high statistically as some of the better young options from around the league, he's a vital piece in the team’s offense. Fresh off of a torn ACL, he made plenty of flash plays to show that he's on track for a potential breakout season in 2020. With a new signal-caller expected to be ushered into the mix, having a security blanket at tight end would be a huge piece to the QB’s success going forward.
Derek Watt, FB
In today's pass-happy NFL, it's hard to fathom the importance of a fullback, but that just how important Derek Watt was when inserted into the lineup. It's not only his contributions on the offensive side, though. He's a mainstay on each special teams unit. Watt embraces his role and does it to the best of his abilities, which happens to be very well. Welcoming Watt back with a multi-year extension seems like a likely outcome for the Chargers.
Michael Schofield, OT
Michael Schofield wasn't necessarily a bright spot on an offensive line that struggled mightily with poor performances and a countless number of injuries. But he was one piece that actually showed signs of positive play in spurts. For a team expected to be in transition and possibly undergoing an offensive line makeover, having the one piece that played well still intact could help going forward. It's a stretch to remake nearly an entire unit in one offseason, but having Schofield entrenched as the team’s starting right guard helps ease the necessity of overhauling most of the spots up front.
FREE AGENT(S) TO LET GO
Philip Rivers, QB
It's really hard to imagine Philip Rivers in another uniform outside of the Chargers, but it is time for the team to move on. From his velocity to his decision making, everything has faltered for the long-time veteran. Reports have already surfaced that the team is "expected" to part ways with Rivers. After it's all said and done, I believe there will be a new starter under center.
Melvin Gordon, RB
A contract dispute that, at the time, seemed like it was never going to end, the Chargers stood firm and didn't budge by giving into Melvin Gordon's demands. Running back is a position that is widely seen as disposable. The Chargers’ rushing attack proved that with the duo of Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson, who filled in admirably during Gordon's absence. Even when the former first-round selection returned, he struggled with his vision and ball security. Gordon is an obvious candidate to move on from, and Los Angeles may elect to cash in on a strong running back class in the 2020 draft.
KEY FREE AGENT SIGNING TO MAKE
Joe Thuney, OG
Whether it's a free agent or rookie draft pick, the Chargers are expected to have a new starter at quarterback next season. It would be wise to make an investment in the offensive line. With a need at tackle, Joe Thuney fills in right away as a young starter with the ability to protect whoever may be taking snaps.
SEVEN-ROUND MOCK DRAFT
The franchise now has to turn to the draft and not only find their future under-center but protection and weapons.