Were it not for Danario Alexander's knee issues, the San Diego Chargers receiver would undoubtedly be a major player in the open market. Though the Missouri alum and undrafted free agent is a restricted free agent in 2013, he also placed first in the per-play efficiency rankings among receivers for both Football Outsiders and Pro Football Focus. That came after a 2012 season in which Alexander came on like gangbusters late in the year -- he caught all 37 of his 2012 passes for 657 yards and seven touchdowns in November and December.
However, a history of knee problems that go back to his college days have the Chargers wondering about the future risk. Alexander has had five knee surgeries, and according to Adam Caplan of SIRIUS NFL Radio and PhiladelphiaEagles.com, that could be reflected in a surprisingly low RFA tender. Caplan reports that the Chargers are seriously considering putting the lowest possible tender on Alexander, and since Alexander was an undrafted free agent, they would receive no compensation if another team set an offer that the Chargers decided not to match. That low tender was placed on Saturday and was confirmed by multiple reports.
“My left knee felt just like my right knee,” Alexander told the San Diego Union-Tribune in November, just as his hot streak got started. “No thought goes into how it feels, and no effort is spent trying to baby it. Same with the hamstring. After everything I’ve dealt with, I consider myself blessed to feel this way.”
In December, former Chargers head coach Norv Turner explained why Alexander was so productive.
“He’s still seeing a lot of single coverage, a lot of matchups where he’s not getting the best [defensive back]. He’s getting the third DB, and he’s taking advantage of it, and I think we’re taking advantage of it, and Philip [Rivers] is.
“Usually, what happens is it swings a little bit. When you keep playing the way he’s playing, pretty soon he starts seeing some double coverage, and then Malcom [Floyd] is getting singled or [Antonio] Gates is getting a little more singled or you’re getting the backs out of the backfield. That’s usually how it goes through a period of time when one guy is having great production.”
Third DB matchups or not, Alexander was a real bright spot in a disappointing Chargers offense, and other teams might see him in a more prominent role -- if the medicals check out. Turner is now the Cleveland Browns' offensive coordinator, and the Browns aren't exactly flush with receiver talent, so there's one possible destination.
Originally signed by the St. Louis Rams in 2010, Alexander has amassed 83 catches for 1,305 yards and 10 touchdowns in his three-year career. He has played in 28 NFL games and started 14.