Heading into his second draft, San Diego Chargers general manager Tom Telesco was genius in selecting wide receiver Keenan Allen, who would go on to win the Sporting News NFL Rookie of the Year, PFWA Offensive Rookie of the Year and the Pepsi NEXT NFL Rookie of the Year awards. The San Diego Chargers passing attack sparked with the development of Allen and the resurgence of Antonio Gates.
But without a threatening second wide receiver, the Chargers’ offense is not complete.
The focus of the draft will be on defense, namely, filling in a secondary that struggled throughout the 2013 campaign. Expect the Chargers to spend the early rounds of the 2014 NFL draft on cornerback, nose tackle or pass rusher. The Chargers will also be looking for a guard if Chad Rinehart isn’t re-signed or if Jeromey Clary becomes a salary cap casualty.
With the undecided future of Malcom Floyd due to a neck injury at the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles during the Sept. 15 game at Lincoln Financial Field and the seventh knee surgery to Danario Alexander, Telesco and his staff will have a tough decision of whether to wait for either receiver to be ready by next season or spend money in free agency. Another option would be to use a late-round pick in the draft. Could Telesco bank on another Allen slipping in the draft? There’s no question the Chargers general manager will be keeping a close eye on potential talent.
As for the wide receivers already under contract, Eddie Royal was serviceable in the slot with 47 catches and 631 yards, but leaning into the final season of his three-year contract, he’s due $6 million, a figure too high for a receiver that should be a backup at best. Releasing Royal would save $4.5 million and makes sense if the already-drowning salary cap needs wiggle room to sign pending free agents and incoming rookies.
It was projected that Vincent Brown would break out, especially after Alexander was sidelined before the preseason. Brown amassed 41 receptions and 472 yards and a touchdown. His contribution is noteworthy, but comes short of spectacular. The possibility of Brown to step up isn’t out of the question, but likely the Chargers will look at other options.
Floyd is the only other wide receiver under contract and is still wearing a neck brace even after five months of recovery. Floyd’s career is at risk and he should consider his physical wellbeing above that of playing another year of football. Floyd has been an integral part of the team and his contributions should not be overlooked, but the loyal Floyd needs to do what is right for himself and for his family.
Seyi Ajirotutu and Lavelle Hawkins are currently unrestricted free agents; expect at least one to remain with the team for depth. Ajirotutu is remembered for the game winning touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs on Nov. 24 and is a favorite of quarterback Philip Rivers.
If the Chargers can find one more explosive receiver this should bring much needed firepower to keep opposing defenses honest, clear the way for Allen or Gates and avoid double teams. The Chargers will have to take a good look at the needs of the entire team — wide receiver is definitely no exception.
Photo Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports
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