Matt Peterson tracks the offseason needs of every team in the league. Today’s franchise, the San Diego Chargers [full archive here].
Season Recap – Each year the Chargers seem poised to contend for the Super Bowl, but mid-season collapses continue to hold them back. Despite finishing the season ranked #1 overall in offense and defense, the Chargers, at 9-7, failed to make the playoffs. San Diego managed to win many games without the help from players Vincent Jackson and Marcus McNeill, both of whom missed games due to holding out. 2011 will likely be the last season owner Alex Spanos settles with a non-playoff qualifying season.
1. Defensive End – Jacques Cesaire is set to become a free agent, which leaves only two defensive ends on the roster. San Diego needs to rejuvenate their front and this draft presents the perfect opportunity, considering the strength of the D-line class. Cameron Heyward should be available and would fit in great for San Diego.
2. Outside Linebacker - Shawne Merriman’s tenure in San Diego is over, which puts Shaun Phillips as the team’s top pass rusher. Larry English has yet to prove himself so GM AJ Smith might want to start looking for a replacement. The Chargers can draft a solid player in round two.
3. Inside Linebacker – Kevin Burnett, Brandon Siler, and Stephen Cooper are all free agents, which leaves a major hole. If San Diego can’t resign at least two of them, they will have to find a new ILB.
4. Wide Receiver - San Diego’s wide outs dropped like flies in 2010. Seyi Ajirotutu, an undrafted rookie, was activated from the practice squad and forced to play due to injuries. Vincent Jackson is a head case and could be moved this offseason and Patrick Crayton and Buster Davis are not ideal starters. The Chargers need to improve this position and get Philip Rivers some respectable targets besides Antonio Gates.
5. Safety - Free safety Eric Weddle is a free agent along with strong safety Paul Oliver. Bob Sanders was recently signed, but it’s widely known he has some major durability issues. The Chargers hope to resign Weddle, but may have to look elsewhere. There should be some options in the middle rounds of the draft.