Perhaps no team in the NFL has as much to gain this offseason as the Los Angeles Chargers. The Chargers finished up the year with a 9-8 record and a disappointing playoff miss. The team boasts one of the best young quarterbacks in Justin Herbert, and the fact that they failed to make the postseason in an expanded field is simply unacceptable. Moving forward, this organization has very little room for error as they look to capitalize on Herbert’s rookie contract years.
As it stands, the Chargers have the third-most cap space in the NFL, per Over The Cap. With this cap space, they’ll certainly look to retain some of their own players such as receiver Mike Williams, linebacker Kyzir White, and edge Uchenna Nwosu, but they’ll also be aggressive in adding outside free agents to help fill out this roster.
Below are three free-agent options on offense and three options on defense the Chargers may look to sign this offseason.
Mike Gesicki, TE, Miami Dolphins
The Chargers allowed Hunter Henry to walk in 2021 free agency and failed to properly address the position. The team signed journeyman Jared Cook last offseason, but he was a major disappointment this past season, consistently dropping passes and failing to create separation over the middle and down the seam. With a quarterback like Herbert, who is known to love throwing to tight ends even going back to his time at Oregon, the team would be wise to add a tight end who can contribute in the receiving game.
Gesicki is one of the best receiving tight ends in the NFL. He finished last season fifth among tight ends with 73 receptions and eighth in yards with 790. He is a long and fluid route-runner who can stress the seam vertically and provide another dimension to this offense.
Morgan Moses, OT, New York Jets
Los Angeles has their left tackle position locked down, but their right tackle situation leaves a lot to be desired. Bryan Bulaga hasn’t been healthy since signing a big contract in 2020 and he will very likely be cut this offseason. With very little talent behind Bulaga, the team will almost certainly address the position through the draft or in free agency.
Morgan Moses is a talented veteran offensive tackle who started nearly every game last season at right tackle. He played very well in 2021 and would be a massive upgrade over what the Chargers had last season. If the Chargers decide to go the free agency route, Moses could make a ton of sense.
James Conner, RB, Arizona Cardinals
I love Austin Ekeler. I think he is one of the most dynamic backs in the NFL and one of the league’s most versatile playmakers. I also realize that he is not best utilized as a full-time three-down back, and using him that way not only minimizes his skill set but also runs a risk of him getting injured. The Chargers need to find a back who can play in two-back sets with Ekeler or be a feature back in the backfield and allow Ekeler to be used in the slot and out wide, similar to how he was used early in his career when the team had Melvin Gordon.
The team has drafted backs such as Joshua Kelley and Larry Roundtree III in later rounds, but those backs are more for depth than actually being a meaningful part of an offense. I fully believe that the Chargers should sign a veteran back who is capable of being a full-time starter and allow Ekeler to be able to be moved around the offense a bit more.
James Conner enjoyed a bounce-back year with the Cardinals in 2021 and proved that when healthy, he is still one of the most productive backs in the league. His physical style of play would fit perfectly with Ekeler and the opportunity for Conner to play with a contender should be appealing.
D.J. Jones, DT, San Francisco 49ers
Linval Joseph is likely not going to be on the roster this season and replacing him will be a major task entering this offseason. The Chargers' putrid run defense can only get better if they acquire some more beef inside at nose tackle to help set the point and allow their linebackers to roam freely and make plays.
D.J. Jones is one of the league’s best-kept secrets. Playing alongside stars like Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead, Jones gets overlooked when discussing the 49ers' defensive front but he is a heck of a player. A strong run defender who also offers some interior rush upside, he would be a fantastic addition in the middle of this Chargers defensive line.
Sebastian Joseph-Day, DT, Los Angeles Rams
Another defensive tackle the Chargers should definitely take a look at, Joseph-Day is a strong and physical defensive lineman who is an outstanding player defending the run. He can set the point, shed blocks, and also get upfield to make plays in the backfield.
Joseph-Day enjoyed his breakout season in 2020 under current Chargers head coach Brandon Staley, so a reunion here could make a lot of sense. Plus, Joseph-Day wouldn’t have to travel very far.
Tyrann Mathieu, S/NB, Kansas City Chiefs
The Chargers have been looking for a safety to pair opposite Derwin James and have yet to successfully do so. While I like Nasir Adderley, he simply has been too inconsistent for the team not to at least consider an upgrade.
Tyrann Mathieu is not only an outstanding player and someone who can drastically improve the Chargers' pass defense, but he is also a program changer from an attitude and culture standpoint. He is a proven winner and is the type of veteran presence that the Chargers need to take the next step and compete in the postseason.