For the first time since becoming general manager in 2003, A.J. Smith dipped heavily into the free-agent market for roster upgrades. The Chargers were especially active at wide receiver, signing veterans Robert Meachem (New Orleans), Roscoe Parrish (Buffalo) and Eddie Royal (Denver). San Diego also re-signed two starting offensive linemen in left tackle Jared Gaither and center Nick Hardwick. Linebacker Jarret Johnson (Baltimore) should boost San Diego’s anemic pass rush. Significant losses:
Meachem was a lower-priced replacement for Vincent Jackson, who signed a five-year, $55.6 million contract with Tampa Bay. Running back Mike Tolbert bolted for Carolina, which makes it even more imperative that Ryan Mathews carry the team’s rushing load in 2012. Left guard Kris Dielman retired following a concussion and seizure suffered last season. Top draft need:
With 2009 first-round pick Larry English never developing into the pass-rushing force they had hoped, the Chargers will likely seek an outside linebacker in the early rounds. Cornerback should also be addressed, with starters Quentin Jammer and Antoine Cason set to become unrestricted free agents in 2013. Analysis:
Because he missed on too many picks in recent drafts, Smith was forced to turn toward free agency to address needs. While not ideal for Smith, doing so at least gives him and head coach Norv Turner a fighting chance of getting off the hot seat. Grade:
B- Alex Marvez
(AP Photo/Denis Poroy)Courtesy of FOXSports.com The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.