Chargers sign 3 as NFL free agency begins

Posted at 8:13 AM, Mar 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-09 21:16:35-05

SAN DIEGO - The San Diego Chargers reeled in three new players as the NFL's free agency period officially began Wednesday.

The team announced the additions of wide receiver Travis Benjamin, defensive tackle Brandon Mebane and free safety Dwight Lowery.

Entering his fifth season, the 26-year-old Benjamin had 68 catches for 966 yards and five touchdowns last season for the Browns. He also averaged 11.6 yards per return on punts last season, good for third in the NFL.

He is expected to bolster a Chargers punt return game that ranked dead last in the NFL. Benjamin had 324 return yards last season. The Chargers had 84.

Benjamin will also provide another weapon for quarterback Philip Rivers, alongside No. 1 receiver Keenan Allen. He will help replace the newly retired Malcom Floyd.

Mebane, a Seahawk since 2007, registered 24 tackles and 1.5 sacks last season. The 311-pounder was on the Seattle squad that held Denver to 8 points in Super Bowl XLVIII.

The signing of the 30-year-old Lowery is expected to help make up for the loss of Eric Weddle. The ex-Colts free safety has started 73 career games in eight seasons in the league.

Earlier in the day, the team re-signed tight end Antonio Gates to a two-year contract. He was set to become an unrestricted free agent.