The Chargers are set to enter free agency with the most salary cap available since Tom Telesco took over as general manager in 2013.
Even though the franchise has some in-house players that will need to get paid, there’s a great chance that Telesco and company will be aggressive in signing other soon-to-be free agents to bolster its roster.
With that being said, we will list one pending free agent from each team in the NFL that could be a realistic target for L.A.
Next up is the NFC North.
After finishing near the bottom in run defense, the Chargers must upgrade the trenches. After being let go of by the Browns at the end of the 2020 season, Richardson was picked up by Minnesota, where he became a key contributor in the trenches, posting 37 quarterback pressures and four sacks, along with 24 run stops in 2021. In addition, he could fit well in Brandon Staley’s system, as Richardson has experience playing in a 3-4 system and brings a veteran presence to the group, with nine years in the league under his belt.
Bryan Bulaga’s future with the Chargers is in flux after being riddled by injuries in his two seasons with the team. Therefore, Bulaga is a cut candidate to free up cap space. Should that come to fruition, Los Angeles will need to find a viable option to start at right tackle after Storm Norton’s play was inconsistent. Kelly, the journeyman, was trusted into Green Bay’s starting lineup after an injury to Billy Turner, where he proved to be solid. On 185 pass-block snaps, Kelly allowed just four pressures and one sack. Of his nine seasons in the league, he has posted Pro Football Focus grades of over 70 in three of them.
EDGE Charles Harris, Lions
The Chargers’ primary attention will be on the interior part of the defensive line this offseason, but they will also have to consider the positional group right next to it, with edge defenders Uchenna Nwosu and Kyler Fackrell’s contracts up. Starting his career with the Dolphins, Harris went on to amass just 3.5 sacks across three seasons. After that, he had a stint with the Falcons, where he posted three sacks. It was until he signed with the Lions that everything clicked, and Harris finally lived up to his first-round billing. He doubled his career sack total, notching 7.5. Further, Harris finished top 20 in quarterback pressures among edge defenders (52), and his 17.4% pass rush win rate ranked 17th.
Hicks is one of the more intriguing pending free agents, who should be atop of the Chargers’ priority list. He is familiar with Brandon Staley during his time with Chicago when he was the outside linebacker coach. Crossing blockers’ faces and bullying them into the backfield, Hicks can contribute equally well against the run and pass. He has over 50 quarterback pressures in three seasons, with his most recent in 2020. He has dealt with some injuries throughout his lengthy career, but it hasn’t hindered him enough to keep him from producing when he is on the field. He played over 800 snaps in each season in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2020.