The Chargers are entering a new era with Anthony Lynn taking over as the head coach and Gus Bradley coming over to run the defense in Los Angeles. The revamped coaching staff will face the task of taking a team that has won nine games total the past two years, to one that can contend in the loaded AFC West. While they don’t have much cap space right now, moving on from guys like King Dunlap and D.J. Fluker can open up money to spend in free agency. Once that happens, they’ll be able to get a bit more aggressive, even after franchise tagging Melvin Ingram. Here are five players they should target.
The Broncos declined Okung’s option, and for good reason. While he was decent, he wasn’t worthy of $48 million over the next four years. The Chargers should take advantage of this opportunity to sign the oft-injured left tackle and upgrade from King Dunlap. Okung played all 16 games in 2016 and may be past his injury concerns while still boasting a wealth of potential. The Chargers need to protect their biggest asset in Philip Rivers, which Dunlap was unable to do. If they can sign him to a low-risk deal, Okung would be a valuable addition.
USA TODAY SportsRon Chenoy
RB Rex Burkhead (Bengals)
Danny Woodhead is a free agent and is coming off of his second lost season in three years. At 32, there’s no guarantee he’ll be able to play at a high level much longer, so it’s time for him to be swapped out for a similar player. Burkhead is a younger version of Woodhead with good speed, elite agility and the ability to catch passes out of the backfield. He’s also good on the ground, averaging a healthy 4.6 yards per carry in 2016. He’s not the receiver Woodhead is at this point, but he has that kind of potential.
S Eric Berry (Chiefs)
The Chargers missed Eric Weddle dearly last season as they watched him put together a terrific season for the Ravens. Now, it’s clear they need to find a replacement for him at free safety. Berry isn’t your typical free safety in the fact that he doesn’t just sit back in center field and take away plays over the top of the defense. He can do that, he just tends to roam the secondary in both deep coverage and as a robber in the middle of the field. If the Chargers can somehow land Berry to fill the void left by Weddle, the defense will be drastically improved and it will make their corners substantially better right away.
OG Larry Warford (Lions)
The Chargers’ offensive line was abysmal last year. It was one of the two or three worst units in the NFL and needs to be completely overhauled. Warford would be a nice upgrade at guard, providing some interior protection for Philip Rivers while also moving bodies in the running game. He’s had a good career with the Lions thus far, especially in 2016 when he was the starting right guard. Warford will likely land a big contract in free agency, and the Chargers should be among the teams lining up to pay him.
WR Alshon Jeffery (Bears)
Keenan Allen has the potential to be an outstanding receiver for the Chargers. Unfortunately, he can’t stay healthy. As a result, the Chargers need to bring in reinforcements, which is what Jeffery would be, and then some. He would be the perfect complement to Allen, giving Philip Rivers the big-bodied receiver he’s missed since Vincent Jackson left. That’s when Rivers was at his best, allowing him to take shots down the field with 50-50 balls that Jeffery comes down with more often than not.