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Chargers' Offseason Checklist: Top Positions to Target

By Nicholas Cothrel,


Which positions on the Chargers' roster should the team prioritize this offseason?

The Chargers' offseason is underway as the team has begun doing self-reflection to identify which areas of the roster need improvement ahead of the 2023 season.

As the start of the new league year inches closer, kicking off on March. 15, the Chargers will have to be more creative this offseason than the aggressive buyers they were last year.

Currently, the team is $19.9 million over the salary cap for the 2023 season, according to Over the Cap 's calculations. Therefore, they'll be tasked with not only looking to build up their roster for the season ahead, they'll need to get cap compliant.

Here are five positions that should sit atop the Chargers' offseason checklist:

Wide receiver

The Chargers have a dangerous pairing of Keenan Allen and Mike Williams at their disposal. But the issues from the team's wide receiver position stem the lack of availability that Allen and Williams were able to provide because of injuries, while also being short-handed in the speed department among their pass-catching group.

Williams was the only receiver on the roster who routinely beat defenders in the deep part of the field, averaging over 14 yards per reception. And for the offense to reach its full potential, they need more players that can win vertically on a regular occurrence.

“I want speed at every position on our roster. That’s kind of the philosophy, it always has been," general manager Tom Telesco said. "Would I love an explosively fast, stretch-the-field receiver? Absolutely, I would love to have that. But, I’m not going to give back Keenan Allen. I’m not going to give back Mike Williams.

"I like our group of receivers. I would love to have some speed there. We’ll see how that kind of works out. But, there are different ways to be able to improve there — some of it is just by pure speed talent, but I think that we have some guys that can do that in different roles."

The Chargers could be inline to invest their top draft choice, the No. 22 overall pick, in a speedy wide receiver.

Inside linebacker

The need at inside linebacker ultimately hinges on what plays out regarding Drue Tranquill's status. He's a pending free agent and has voiced his desire in wanting to return to the team.

“Drue had a tremendous year as a player, as a leader for us. I know when we drafted him, we felt like he had the ability to be a captain," Telesco said. "That’s kind of what he is. He’s just a great leader, has a great feel. He represents our team really well, but plays really well, too.

"We have a lot of puzzle pieces to kind of work in this year to figure out what’s the best makeup of our team going into next year. Obviously, contracts and money are all part of it. We’ll get into those discussions as we get into February and try to map it out."

Just a season ago, the Chargers let linebacker Kyzir White walk in free agency after leading the team in tackles prior to hitting the open market. White signed a fairly reasonable contract with the Eagles, inking a one-year, $3 million deal.

Historically, the Chargers haven’t deeply invested in the linebacker position, but Tranquill could be an outlier given that he wore the green dot for Brandon Staley's defense and was among their top vocal leaders in the locker room.

If the team opts to move on from Tranquill, they're going to have a notable hole in the middle of their defense to fill, in which could be addressed in the form of free agency or the NFL Draft.

Edge rusher

The need for an edge rusher is for depth purposes rather than a starting role. The combination of Khalil Mack and Joey Bosa is one of the top duos in the league, but Bosa is coming off a year he missed 13 games because of a groin injury and Mack is entering his age 32 season.

Having a competent No. 3 edge rusher will further allow the team the ability to sustain injuries, but also gives them the option of rotating their edge players to keep guys fresh throughout the game.

While there's a chance the team could opt to use one of their early draft picks on this position, it feels more realistic they address this need in the middle rounds given that they already have two Pro Bowl-caliber edge rushers occupying the starting spots.

Tight end

The Chargers' tight end group delivered marginal production throughout the 2022 season.

Gerald Everett, who was brought in last offseason on a two-year deal, hauled in 58 receptions for 555 yards and four touchdowns. But aside from Everett's contributions as a receiver, the position group never fully put it together.

From a blocking standpoint, the Chargers' group of tight ends were up and down for most of the year, which led to inconsistencies in the team's running game.

The Chargers have relied on short-term deals the past two seasons to fill their starting tight end role. However, they could feel inclined to select a rookie in the draft to work under Everett before developing into their tight end of the future.

The team has stated throughout the early portion of their offensive coordinator search that they want the offense designed where the running game can coincide with the pass game. To do so, the Chargers could look for a do-it-all tight end, who offers the ability to catch passes, while also being a stout blocker.

This year's tight end group for the 2023 NFL Draft features six players inside Daniel Jeremiah ’s top 50 rankings.

Offensive line

The Chargers have options for how they can attack their offensive line.

Right tackle Trey Pipkins, who fared well in his first full season, holding opponents to two sacks across 898 offensive snaps, is a pending free agent. Perhaps the Chargers could look to bring him back, but the team's salary cap restraints are also something to monitor.

“I’m really proud of him," Telesco said of Pipkins. "His development of really turning into a starting right tackle in this league, and then, really, how he handled his injury this year. I mean, he is tough. He knew how much he meant to the team. He played through some things that are really difficult. To see his development from the time he got here to now, I’m proud of him of how much work he’s put into it."

There's also a possibility the team moves on from left guard Matt Feiler for salary cap relief. Feiler is on the books for $8.5 million is 2023, but can be released with a dead cap hit of $2 million, while saving $6.5 million in cap space.

As the team identifies how they're going to shore up their offensive line, rookie Jamaree Salyer is expected to solidify one of the two spots that could be looking for new starters. Salyer started 14 games at left tackle in place of the injured Rashawn Slater, and held up exceptionally well. Salyer logged 989 offensive snaps, allowing five sacks and 10 quarterback hits.

Telesco, in reflecting back on the job from his sixth-round pick, stated that they're going to find a position for Salyer.

"He played really efficient football for us at a critical position," Telesco said of Salyer. "As you move into next year, as good as Jamaree played, I feel pretty comfortable that Rashawn Slater will be our left tackle, but we’ll figure out what the best role for Jamaree is.

"Do we see him at a guard or a tackle for next year? I don’t know yet, to be honest with you. I’m not sure.”

Indications are Salyer will step into one of the starting spots across the offensive line, but his role is yet to be determined. That also means the Chargers' depth for the offensive line will take a hit with Salyer moving into a starting job. Therefore, the Chargers find themselves in the market to add depth pieces.

Read more from Charger Report:

Nick Cothrel is the publisher of Charger Report. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickCothrel for more Chargers coverage.

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