The Los Angeles Chargers had a disappointing season once again in 2021. Despite having one of the most talented rosters in the NFL, the Chargers failed to reach the postseason for the third straight season. Not all is lost though. Second-year quarterback Justin Herbert proved that his rookie season was not a fluke. He is very obviously one of the best young quarterbacks in the league and will likely be an NFL MVP one day.
This is a quarterback driven league. So, the Chargers are ahead of the game. Nevertheless, something continues to hold this team back from reaching the heights its talent should dictate. There are some very clear issues that need to be addressed this offseason. Here are the three moves Los Angeles must make during the 2022 NFL offseason.
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3. BEEF UP THE DEFENSIVE LINE
It was very obvious what was the biggest weakness of the Chargers last season; rush defense. Los Angeles finished 30th in the NFL, allowing 139 rushing yards per game. They also allowed 22 rushing touchdowns, tied for the second most in the league. The secondary was solid, finishing 12th against the pass.
Everyone knows how good the offense is, led by Justin Herbert. But an elite offense is only as valuable as their rush defense. If you can’t stop opponents from running the ball down your throat, your stud quarterback gets limited opportunities. It’s plain and simple.
Look what happened in the loss to the Houston Texans late in the season.
Rex Burkhead had a career day against the #Chargers.
His 149 yards are the most in any game of his career.pic.twitter.com/QOfSM8Q8KJ
— Pro Football Network (@PFN365) December 28, 2021
In a game where Herbert threw for over 300 yards and a couple scores, it didn’t end up mattering. Rex Burkhead had a career day, amassing 149 yards and two touchdowns.
Chargers defensive tackle Linval Joseph is set to become an unrestricted free agent. Therefore, there is even more work to be done than normal on the defensive line. There are a lot of really good free agent defensive tackles available this offseason. Players like Ndamukong Suh and Brandon Williams will be available, but expensive. I suggest targeting Vernon Butler or DaQuan Jones. They will be cheaper, but are younger and arguable just as good.
2. IMPROVE INJURY-PLAGUED SECONDARY
Last season, the Chargers received a nice suprise, as rookie cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. played very well. Unfortunately, he also received two concussions during the season. However, Michael Davis failed to live up to the contract the Chargers gave him. Derwin James is always elite when he on the field. But that’s the problem. Seemingly every season James missed time with injuries.
So, it would make sense to shore up the secondary in Los Angeles. Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Carlton Davis is set to be a free agent, unless the Bucs decide to place the franchise tag on him. If he does become available, Davis would be the perfect to the Chargers defense. He is one of few young, versatile cornerbacks who you can line up in man-to-man coverage and leave him on an island.
Davis won’t come cheap, but will be well worth the investment.
One other long shot would be bringing back Casey Hayward Jr. After a subpar 2020 in Los Angeles, Hayward regained his form putting together a stellar campaign with the Las Vegas Raiders in 2021. He will likely only be cap hit in the range of $6-7 million.
1. RE-SIGN MIKE WILLIAMS
As important as improving the defense is, and it is, equally as important is signing wide receiver Mike Williams. I don’t say that because Williams is an amazing player. He is a very good player, but the perfect fit for this offense.
Herbert already has his number one receiver locked up. Allen signed a four-year, $80 million contract that will keep him in Los Angeles through the 2024 season. The Chargers have easily one of the best receiving tailbacks in the league in Austin Ekeler. Williams provides that big-body deep threat that takes this offense from good to elite.
All eyes are on the Chargers to see what they will do with Mike Williams. https://t.co/7hXQg1ezSs
— Chargers Wire (@TheChargersWire) February 23, 2022
It is not going to be easy to bring Williams back. He finally blossomed into an elite receiver in 2021. Williams posted career highs in catches with 76, and yards with 1,146. He also caught nine touchdown passes. It’s very possible Los Angeles has to place the franchise tag on him before free agency begins.
If they let him hit the open market, it’s very possible the Chargers can’t match what some other teams might be willing to offer. But it is essential for Herbert’s historic rise to continue that they figure it out.