2023 NFL Offseason: Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Chargers (Last Year: 10-7)

2023 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
LB Eric Kendricks.

Early Draft Picks:
WR Quentin Johnston, DE Tuli Tuipulotu, LB Daiyan Henley, WR Derius Davis, OT Jordan McFadden. Chargers Rookie Forecast

Offseason Losses:
WR DeAndre Carter, OT Storm Norton, G Matt Feiler, DT Christian Covington, OLB Kyle Van Noy, LB Drue Tranquill, CB Bryce Callahan, S Nasir Adderley.

2023 Los Angeles Chargers Offense:
Justin Herbert had plenty of weapons at his disposal entering the 2022 season. It didn’t seem like that was the case during the year, however, as Keenan Allen and Mike Williams both missed extensive time. Allen was out for seven games, while Williams was absent for five, including the playoff battle against the Jaguars. Williams got hurt twice, though the second time wasn’t his fault, as head coach Brandon Staley foolishly used his starters in a meaningless Week 18 game.

Given the poor durability of both Allen and Williams, it was no surprise that the Chargers used their first-round pick on Quentin Johnson. Viewed as a poor man’s Julio Jones by some scouts, Johnston will be a great insurance policy this year. Herbert will utilize all three receivers when they’re on the field, and he’ll also make use of tight end Gerald Everett, who caught 58 passes last year.

Of course, Austin Ekeler can’t be forgotten when discussing Herbert’s arsenal. Ekeler rushed for 915 yards last year, but did so much more damage as a receiver out of the backfield. He hauled in 107 passes for 722 receiving yards. He also scored 18 total touchdowns. There was some discussion about Ekeler being traded this offseason, but nothing came of that.

The receiving corps wasn’t the only area of the offense that sustained injuries during the 2022 campaign. The offensive line also took a beating, primarily with left tackle Rashawn Slater starting just three games. Rookie Jamaree Salyer did a fine job filling in for Slater, but he was not the dominant blind-side protector Slater is capable of being. With Slater back this year, Salyer can move inside to guard, joining 2022 first-rounder Zion Johnson at the position. Johnson had an uneven rookie campaign, but should improve with experience.

Rounding out the offensive line, center Corey Linsley also missed a bit of action last year, but he was stellar when on the field. Conversely, right tackle Trey Pipkins struggled once again. If everyone is healthy, Pipkins projects to be the lone liability on the blocking unit.

2023 Los Angeles Chargers Defense:
Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Rashawn Slater weren’t the only top-level Chargers who missed extensive action last year. Joey Bosa suffered an injury in Week 3 and didn’t return until the very end of the season. He was expected to provide a boost, but clearly wasn’t 100 percent, as he played about half the snaps against the Jaguars in the playoff defeat.

Losing an elite pass rusher is the worst injury-related event that can happen to a team, aside from the quarterback getting hurt. T.J. Watt and Von Miller being out really hurt the Steelers and Bills, respectively, and the same thing can be said of the Chargers, who finished with the league’s 11th-worst pressure rate. Bosa figures to be 100 percent heading into 2023, however, so he and Khalil Mack should be able to apply great pressure on opposing passers when healthy. If one goes down, perhaps second-round rookie Tuli Tuipulotu will be a viable replacement. This will be crucial, given how many talented quarterbacks exist in the AFC.

The improved pass rush will be needed to help a secondary that struggled at times last season. Second-year Asante Samuel Jr. was stellar last year, but the same can’t be said of former Patriot J.C. Jackson, who endured a disastrous 2022 campaign before suffering a torn patellar tendon, one of the worst injuries a football player can incur. Aside from Samuel and the solid Michael Davis, however, the Chargers don’t have much else at the position.

The secondary has some problems as well. Derwin James is exceptional, but last year’s other safety, Nasir Adderley, opted to retire. Replacing Adderley will be either the pedestrian Alohi Gilman or JT Woods, who didn’t play much as a third-round rookie last season.

While the Chargers figure to be better against aerial attacks because of their improved pass rush, it still remains to be seen if they’ll be able to stop the run effectively. The Chargers have struggled in this regard for many seasons, and the trend figures to continue into 2023. Sebastian Joseph-Day was a huge disappointment as a signing last offseason, but perhaps he can bounce back this year. Fellow starter Austin Johnson isn’t any better.

The one signing the Chargers made this offseason was to strengthen the middle of the field. That was Eric Kendricks, who used to be one of the better off-ball linebackers in the NFL. Kendricks, however, is now in his 30s, and he’s coming off a dismal year. He was a huge liability in coverage, though he was at least still solid in run support, which is what the Chargers need. The Chargers also need their other linebacker, Kenneth Murray, to improve, as Murray has been a first-round bust thus far.

2023 Los Angeles Chargers Schedule and Intangibles:
The Chargers have no home-field advantage. They are 25-22 as hosts since moving back to Los Angeles in 2017. They’re 27-25 as visitors in that span. The NFL will have to consider moving the Chargers, perhaps to Oakland, Oklahoma City, San Antonio, or Salt Lake City.

The Chargers have endured major kicking woes for years, but perhaps they found a solution in Cameron Dicker. “Dicker the Kicker” went 19-of-20 last year and hit every single extra point. However, he whiffed on his only try from 50-plus.

While the Chargers may have finally found their kicker, they need to focus on obtaining a better punter, as J.K. Scott routinely finishes near the bottom of net average.

The Chargers have a mixed non-divisional schedule. They’ll battle the Bills, Jets, Dolphins and Lions, but they’ll also be able to beat the Patriots, Titans, Bears, and Packers.

2023 Los Angeles Chargers Rookies:
Go here for the Chargers Rookie Forecast, a page with predictions like which rookie will bust and which rookie will become a solid starter.

2023 Los Angeles Chargers Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2023 Los Angeles Chargers Analysis: It’s easy to fall in love with the Chargers’ chances of making a deep run into the playoffs. They have a ton of talent, and they caught the bad end of the injury variance stick last year. If healthier in 2023, the Chargers can certainly be one of the best teams in the NFL. However, they are coached poorly and always seem to suffer misfortune. They also reside in a very taxing division, so it may be difficult for them to accumulate victories.

Projection: 10-7 (2nd in AFC West)

2022 Projection: 13-4. 2022 Actual Result: 10-7.
2021 Projection: 12-5. 2021 Actual Result: 9-8.
2020 Projection: 5-11. 2020 Actual Result: 7-9.
2019 Projection: 9-7. 2019 Actual Result: 5-11.
2018 Projection: 9-7. 2018 Actual Result: 12-4.
2017 Projection: 7-9. 2017 Actual Result: 9-7.
2016 Projection: 7-9. 2016 Actual Result: 5-11.

NFL Draft Team Grade: A Grade

Goals Entering the 2023 NFL Draft: The Chargers didn’t improve their coaching staff this offseason, so another disastrous finish seems like it’s in the cards. To prevent this from happening, the Chargers will need to find depth behind players who spent way too much time on the injury report last year, namely Joey Bosa and the two receivers. The Chargers must also finally fix their defensive tackles and linebacking corps so their run defense doesn’t struggle again (28th in 2023).

2023 NFL Draft Accomplishments: The Chargers were apparently in love with the TCU passing attack. They used their first-round pick on Quentin Johnson, who has drawn comparisons as a poor man’s Julio Jones. A fourth-round selection was then used on Derius Davis to further strengthen the receiving corps. And if that wasn’t enough, the final selection was used on a backup quarterback of the future, Max Duggan.

I liked all three of these picks, and I was also a fan of the Day 2 choices. Tuli Tuipulotu and Daiyan Henley were great bargains, and they should both provide a much-needed boost to the front seven. Meanwhile, Jordan McFadden was a solid blocker to add in the fifth frame.

Six of the seven Chargers’ selections scored a “B” or higher, and five of them were A- or better. This was an excellent draft for the Chargers, who obtained good values and filled needs.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

21. Quentin Johnson, WR, TCU – A- Grade
The Chargers, like the Seahawks, have two talented receivers in Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. Unfortunately, they haven’t been able to stay healthy, and Allen is nearing the end of his tenure with the team. The Chargers had to find another weapon for Justin Herbert, and Johnson has drawn comparisons to Julio Jones from some around the NFL.

54. Tuli Tuipulotu, DE, USC – A Grade
Tuli Tuipulotu is an explosive player who could have gone earlier than this. The Chargers already have two stud edge rushers, but you can never have enough players to rush the passer, especially in the AFC. Besides, Khalil Mack won’t be around for very long, so Tuipulotu will start a couple of seasons.

85. Daiyan Henley, LB, Washington State – A Grade
The Chargers have had issues at linebacker for years, but perhaps they’ve finally solved that problem. Daiyan Henley has great sideline-to-sideline speed, and I thought he could easily be chosen in the second round. I love this value.

125. Derius Davis, WR, TCU – B Grade
The Chargers apparently were big fans of the TCU receiving corps. Derius Davis is extremely fast and should be used in the slot at the next level. The Chargers needed to revamp the receiving corps, so this pick makes sense.

156. Jordan McFadden, OT/G, Clemson – A- Grade
I had Jordan McFadden in the fourth round, so I like this value. The need also makes sense, as the Chargers had to find better interior line depth. Jordan McFadden played tackle at Clemson, but will probably have to move inside due to athleticism limitations.

200. Scott Matlock, DT, Boise State – C Grade
The Chargers needed help at defensive tackle, but that’s not anything new. Scott Matlock has some upside as a pass rusher, but he’s going to get pushed around in run support. I didn’t have him in any of my mocks.

239. Max Duggan, QB, TCU – A Grade
Max Duggan is another prospect who easily could have gone much earlier than this. Max Duggan has no elite traits, but he’s an accurate quarterback who can scramble. He has good potential to be a career No. 2 quarterback.

Season Summary:
Another year, another Chargers-like collapse. This time, Brandon Staley was responsible for Mike Williams’ injury because he played him in a meaningless game, and then the team blew a 27-0 lead to the Jaguars in the opening round of the playoffs.

Offseason Moves:
  • Chargers announce retirement of S Nasir Adderley
  • Chargers sign LB Eric Kendricks

    Team Needs:
    1. Two Defensive Tackles: How long are the Chargers going to struggle against the run. They really need to bolster the interior of their defensive line.

    2. Linebacker: Drue Tranquill is a top free agent for the Chargers, so he’ll need to be re-signed or replaced. Signed Eric Kendricks

    3. Safety: Nasir Adderley is another important free agent.

    4. Backup Quarterback: Both of the Chargers’ backup quarterbacks are entering free agency.

    5. Backup Tackle: Better reserve linemen are needed if Rashawn Slater gets hurt again. Re-signed Trey Pipkins

    6. Edge Rusher Depth: Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack are excellent, but better edge-rushing depth is needed, just in case Bosa gets hurt again.

    7. Punter: J.K. Scott is set to hit free agency as well. Re-signed J.K. Scott

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2023 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Eric Kendricks, LB, Vikings. Age: 31.
      Signed with Chargers

      Eric Kendricks was once one of the better linebackers in the NFL, but he looked terribly lost in coverage last year. He still played very well against the run, however.

    2. Nick Williams, DT, Giants. Age: 33. — Signed with Chargers

    Los Angeles Chargers Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. Drue Tranquill, LB, Chargers. Age: 28.
      Signed with Chiefs (1 year)

      Drue Tranquill has evolved into a quality linebacker. He’s great in coverage, but tends to get beat up in run support.

    2. Nasir Adderley, S, Chargers. Age: 26.
      Announced retirement

      Nasir Adderley is solid in coverage, but tends to miss one too many tackles.

    3. J.K. Scott, P, Chargers. Age: 27.
      Re-signed with Chargers (2 years, $4 million)

      J.K. Scott was ranked in the middle of the pack in punting last year.

    4. Kyle Van Noy, OLB, Chargers. Age: 33.
      Kyle Van Noy is a versatile, Jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none linebacker. He turns 33 this offseason, so a decline will be coming soon.

    5. Bryce Callahan, CB, Chargers. Age: 31.
      Bryce Callahan used to be a stellar slot cornerback, but constant injuries have weighed down his career.

    6. Donald Parham, TE, Chargers. Age: 26. — Re-signed with Chargers
    7. DeAndre Carter, WR, Chargers. Age: 30. — Signed with Raiders
    8. Morgan Fox, DE, Chargers. Age: 28. — Re-signed with Chargers
    9. Trey Pipkins, OT, Chargers. Age: 26. — Re-signed with Chargers (3 years, $21.75 million
    10. Matt Feiler, G, Chargers. Age: 31.
    11. Breiden Fehoko, DT, Chargers. Age: 26. — Signed with Steelers
    12. Christian Covington, DT, Chargers. Age: 29. — Signed with Lions
    13. Will Clapp, C, Chargers. Age: 26. — Re-signed with Chargers
    14. Chase Daniel, QB, Chargers. Age: 36.
    15. Storm Norton, OT, Chargers. Age: 29. — Signed with Saints
    16. Tyeler Davison, DT, Chargers. Age: 30.
    17. Richard Rodgers, TE, Chargers. Age: 30.
    18. Troy Reeder, LB, Chargers. Age: 28. — Signed with Vikings

    NFL Free Agent Tracker:
    QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K/P | FA Grades | FA Rumors

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