4 pending free agents Chargers must prioritize re-signing
The 2023 free agency period on the NFL calendar begins on March 15, but it will be before you know it. The Chargers have 15 pending free agents heading into the offseason.
General manager Tom Telesco will have to be selective when deciding who’s worthy of being brought back next season since the team does not have a lot of spendings this go around.
Los Angeles is projected to be $19.4 million over the salary cap in 2023, the fifth-worst situation in the NFL. However, they could free up some of that with internal moves.
With that, here’s a look at the top priorities based on their play from this past season when Los Angeles begins that process.
OT Trey Pipkins
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Pipkins entered last training camp in a battle with Storm Norton for the starting right tackle spot and ended up winning. Pipkins spent last offseason with offensive line developer Duke Manyweather, which benefited his game immensely. Despite battling through an MCL sprain he first suffered in Week 5, Pipkins played at a high level. Drafted as a project in 2019 and struggling to find his footing in the NFL in his first few seasons, Pipkins looked like a capable NFL tackle in his contract year. He only allowed two sacks on 586 pass-block snaps. With continuity being critical along the offensive line, Pipkins is deserving of manning the position for the foreseeable future.
LB Drue Tranquill
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When Derwin James and Joey Bosa were out to their respective injuries, Tranquill stepped up as the leader of the defense. Tranquill led the team in tackles with 146 and was second in tackles for loss (10). He was also viable in pass coverage, with four passes defended and an interception. Additionally, Tranquill came on as a blitzer, tied for third on the team in sacks with five. Linebacker is not a premium position in Staley’s system, as evident from the Chargers letting Kyzir White walk after an outstanding 2021 season. But Tranquill showed on the field that he is worthy of being kept around. And having him back gives the Chargers their energized playmaker and a vocal leader in the middle of the defense.
DT Morgan Fox
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Fox was inked to a veteran minimum contract last May to supply a pass-rush presence from the interior part of the defensive line. Fox went on to set a career-high in sacks (6.5). His previous best was 5.5, which he set with the Rams when Brandon Staley was their defensive coordinator in 2020. Additionally, while lauded for his pass-rush prowess, Fox’s play against the run continuously improved after being put into a starting role. He had 21 run stops on the season. Given that Los Angeles’ defensive line room is predominantly filled with run defense specialists, Fox should be a priority due to his ability to get after the quarterback. Plus, at just 28 years old, Fox is still in his prime.
S JK Scott
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Punters are people, too. Scott was brought in last offseason and ended up being a critical piece of the Chargers’ special teams revitalization. Los Angeles finished first in the NFL in total punt return yards allowed, as they gave up just 58 punt return yards on 19 attempts all season (3.1 yards per return). Scott’s hangtime played a vital role, leading the league in hangtime with 4.76 seconds.