Since March 9th, NFL team’s have been allowed to announce their new free agent signings and boy have they been taking advantage. Big trades involving draft picks? The Cleveland Browns and Houston Texans have you covered. Unexpected young player leaves their franchise for greener pastures? There goes former Buffalo Bill Stephon Gilmore on a five-year, $65 million dollar contract to the New England Patriots. These are just a couple of the high-profile moves that have occurred in the past ten days, with much more activity to come. But who’s the one team on the outside looking in? The Chargers.
Other than signing veteran tackle Russell Okung on a four-year $53 million dollar deal, the Chargers have not made any other forays into free agency or the trade market. With that being the case, we can tell as much about the Chargers intentions from the moves they haven’t made as the ones they have pulled the trigger on.
For example let’s take recently re-signed Charger’s offensive lineman Kenny Wiggins. Wiggins is an undrafted free agent out of Fresno State that has built a solid NFL career for himself, his last three seasons having been played on the Chargers. While you will never see national headlines regarding the Wiggins signing, the move to resign him instead of say D.J. Fluker (another pending free agent lineman) speaks to the organization’s intention to build continuity and versatility through their roster without overpaying for talent. Don’t get me wrong, I know that D.J. Fluker is a talented player with more upside than the re-signed Wiggins. However Charger’s management understood that they might have had to overpay to retain Fluker’s services, so instead opted to let him go.
Despite letting Fluker walk, the Chargers’ still exemplified their willingness to pay young talent that’s earned it . The showed this when they tagged linebacker Melvin Ingram with the franchise tag. In previous years the Chargers had garnered a reputation for being cheap (think about the Eric Weddle situation a couple of years back). But in tagging Ingram, the Chargers showed their intention to reward a player who has averaged more than nine sacks per season in his last two campaigns. Ingram is a talented edge-rusher who is just coming off his rookie contract. He provides the Chargers with a legitimate defensive star in-the-making who can help build the Chargers brand in Los Angeles. Not to forget, add safety Jahleel Addae to the list of young players the Chargers have rewarded due to impressive play. Addae received a four-year contract to stay with the Chargers last week.
In a word, should Charger’s fans be worried? No. I don’t believe that any big signings would have ever turned these Chargers into a playoff team. With a new coaching staff, led by head coach Anthony Lynn, it’s important that the team takes their time. What’s more encouraging is the team’s willingness to get things right. Short-cutting that process would have left the Charger’s in the position of franchise’s such as the Jacksonville Jaguars or Miami Dolphins. Team’s like that are always in the news for their big signings, but simultaneously become stuck in prolonged periods of mediocrity. Let’s wait and see what the Charger’s do (or don’t do) next.
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