The Chargers have several vital players slated for free agency, but these three are the most important. Weddle is a sure tackler and a classic centerfield defender with outstanding instincts; he has a chance to form an elite tandem with offseason pickup Bob Sanders.
Clary is coming off his best year. He showed improved footwork that allowed him to better handle speed rushers. He also keyed the running game and was dynamite on reaching his second-level assignments.
Burnett was much more comfortable in his second season with the Chargers and it showed. He posted 95 tackles, six sacks, two picks, two forced fumbles and a TD. Also, San Diego needs a veteran like the 28-year-old Burnett to pair with youngsters Donald Butler and Jonas Mouton.
2. Make a Decision at Wide Receiver
Another key pending free agent is Malcom Floyd. However, with Vincent Jackson (who received the franchise tag) and Patrick Crayton still under control, there is less urgency to re-up with Floyd.
The Chargers also have a chance to upgrade this position. If San Diego can bring in Carolina's Steve Smith for a third-round pick in 2012 and a conditional pick in 2013, A.J. Smith should jump at the opportunity. The thought of Philip Rivers working with Smith, Jackson and Antonio Gates is tantalizing.
3. Find an Outside Pass Rusher
One spot the Chargers failed to address in the draft is outside linebacker. The team could rectify that during free agency with a Kamerion Wimbley or a Manny Lawson. San Diego could also go the trade route.
If the Bolts cannot bring in an impact player from outside the organization, A.J. Smith will move to re-sign Antwan Barnes, who shined as a pass-rushing specialist last season. In fact, Barnes could return regardless of what else happens at this position.
4. Identify Undrafted Players of Interest
FB Mike Tolbert
With WR Terrence Toliver, CB Kendric Burney, S Jeron Johnson and DL Ian Williams still available, among others, San Diego could come away with more than one contributor.
5. Sign All Eight Draft Picks
The shortened offseason gives the Chargers -- who have a history of holdouts with their top picks -- less time to work out deals with all of their picks. The new rookie wage scale could complicate things further, as teams will have little time to familiarize themselves with the new system.
It is especially vital the Chargers get No. 1 pick Corey Liuget into camp as soon as possible. Liuget is penciled in as the starting right defensive end; last year's starter, Jacques Cesaire, will be an unrestricted free agent who may not return.
6. Practice, Practice, Practice
The Chargers need practice time as much as (or more) than any other team in the league. There are new coordinators on defense and special teams, while the offense will work without the guidance of former assistant coach Rob Chudzinski, who followed Ron Rivera to Carolina.
There has been speculation that the shortened offseason will favor teams like the Chargers, who return with their head coach and the core of their team already in tact. Nonetheless, there is lots of work to do if the Chargers hope to avoid yet another slow start to the season.
What are San Diego's priorities once the lockout ends? Talk in the message boards.
Michael Lombardo is a long-time contributor to the Scout.com network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 16 years and covered the team since 2003. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.