Ben On The Bolts: Ranking offseason moves

SAN DIEGO - With training camp just over two weeks away, it looks like Tom Telesco's job of putting together a Chargers team for 2014 is just about complete. Now, it's all about fine-tuning; making the tough cuts, picking the 53-man roster, choosing the starters and managing the practice squad. There will, of course, be some street free agents added here and there due to pressing needs ... but barring a major injury or unexpected contract extension for a star player, I don't think the Chargers will be making any more big acquisitions between now and the season.

With that in mind, I've decided to rank the 10 most important non-draft pick moves Tom Telesco has made since the end of last season:

10. Released CB Derek Cox (3/4) - This one may have been a no-brainer, but it also showed that Tom Telesco is willing to admit a mistake and move on. Many general managers would be unable to recover from such a bad signing, but as you'll see, Telesco has done an admirable job piecing together a secondary despite this rotten free agent move in 2012.

9. Signed CB Brandon Ghee (3/15) - For a few weeks before the draft (and subsequent addition of Brandon Flowers), it looked like this move was going to be much higher on the list. It still makes the top ten, but just barely. Back in Mid-March, we were contemplating the idea of Ghee as a starter opposite Shareece Wright. Now, if he makes the team, Ghee can function as much-needed depth in the secondary, a role he seems better suited for based on his time in Cincinnati.

8. Re-signed OL Rich Ohrnberger (4/9) - This was the last move the Chargers made before the draft, and it appears Telesco handled it well. They needed a versatile interior backup on the offensive line, but there was no need to rush out and overpay Ohrnberger to return. Instead, the Chargers were patient, and when a better deal failed to materialize, they welcomed a useful player back with open arms. Nicely done.

7. Signed ILB Kavell Conner (3/13) - You may have forgotten about this move…it came during a busy week in March…but the addition of Conner is an important one for the Bolts, because they added no other inside linebackers in the draft. Sure, in a perfect world, Donald Butler plays like a Pro Bowler and Manti Te'o makes a huge leap from Year One to Year Two, and both stay healthy all season long. I doubt we live in that world. Kavell Conner will be needed to make a whole bunch of tackles this season. Let's hope the former Colt is up to the challenge.

6. Signed QB Kellen Clemens (3/17) - Hopefully this move won't be very important at all, although he seems to be fitting in well in the quarterbacks room with Rivers and Brad Sorenson. However, it could end up being very, very important, if you get my drift (knock on wood), so I'll split the difference and put it at #6. Bottom line: there are worse backup QBs in the NFL (and maybe even a worse starter or two).

5. Signed RB Donald Brown (3/13) - While this may have been the biggest name the Chargers added in free agency, his impact will likely be limited in his first season, barring a major injury to Ryan Mathews. Still, Brown will get some touches and seems like a good guy to have around, especially when Rivers needs a little extra protection in the backfield. It still seems odd, though, that Brown was the first outside free agent added to the mix this offseason.

T-4. Re-signed Darrell Stuckey (3/13) and Seyi Ajirotutu (3/17) - I cheated a little and lumped these two moves together. Both happened in the same week and March, and both were critical in maintaining a special teams unit that was above average in covering kicks and punts last season. Stuckey has the added benefit of being one of the headiest players on the team, and can be pressed into service on defense. Tutu's game-winning catch in Kansas City reminds us that starting quarterbacks are rarely as comfortable with their 5th receivers as Philip Rivers is with Seyi.

3. Signed CB Brandon Flowers (6/25) - I'm still not sure how Tom Telesco did it, but the sickening feeling I had about the Chargers secondary at the start of the offseason is gone. Now, I'm not expecting All-Pro play from Flowers (even if he's expecting it from himself), but the ex-Chief undoubtedly makes the Chargers better on defense. In the span of 3 months, Telesco added Ghee, Jason Verrett, Flowers, and brought back Richard Marshall. It may not be perfect, but it sure beats Shareece Wright-and-pray that every opposing QB gets injured.

2. Re-signed OL Chad Rinehart (3/12) - This move isn't nearly as sexy as the Flowers signing, but the most important thing the Chargers can do is protect Philip Rivers-and Rinehart did that well last year. Hopefully, he'll continue to flourish as an established member of the offensive line, spending another season lined up next to Nick Hardwick.

1. Re-signed ILB Donald Butler (2/28) - The Chargers spent a pretty penny (up to $48 million) to keep a player who didn't have a great 2013 season, but there are much worse bets in the NFL than Donald Butler. It's no coincidence that his improved health matched up with the Chargers' 5-game winning streak in December and January. He was playing excellent football at the end of the season, and I'm expecting a big year from Butler, who has become one of the leaders in the locker room.

Print this article Back to Top

Comments