Chargers Unrestricted Free Agent Outlook

After the season ended, before even the Super Bowl, the writers here at each took a look at the possibility of each player returning. This was initial reactions and honest assessments without any of the new knowledge gained since then that may influence the hard look at players. The following is a look at all of the <I>Unrestricted free Agents</I>.

While lengthy, this article contains true feelings that will help make you understand just what the Chargers may be thinking when it comes to these players. It is interesting to note the commonalities between each writer:

Will Mortensen:

P- Darren Bennett: Thank you for years of dedication and service but its Mike's turn, he'll get: the pat on the back.
LS- David Binn: Great snapper and throws his body around on special teams: Give him the pen.
K- Steve Christie: Gets: the pat on the back.
OT- Ed Ellis- LT seems to have good performances when Big Ed's in the game. Typical Charger OL, good run-blocker, bad pass-blocker. Emergency back up type.
LG- Kelvin Garmon: Good run blocker, good attitude, bad pass protector. Offer him a back-up's contract.
OG- Bob Hallen: Did a decent job backing up at guard. Probably done in San Diego.
KR/RB- Leon Johnson: Reliable but slow kick returner. Can also return punts. 3rd RB type. Must find a player that has as much versatility or he should re-sign.
LT- Damion McIntosh: Struggled last year and can't finish a season healthy. Low ball him.
OG/OT- Solomon Page: Best as a guard or swing-man. If he'll sign a guards contract: Give him the pen.
DT- Joe Salave'a: Decent against the run but didn't make a lot of plays.
S/CB- Jerry Wilson: Good attitude. Too small as a safety and not quite a good corner. Experience, attitude, and versatility are on his side. Might get another look but should be in a backup role.

Kenny Williams:

P- Darren Bennett: 0% Has already stated so.
LS- David Binn: 100% One of the best in the business. Also happens to be a consistent tackler on special teams.
K- Steve Christie: 0% If he is even back in camp, somebody will need their head examined.
OT- Ed Ellis: 0% Like a bad dream, he won't go away.
LG- Kelvin Garmon: 75% He would never have been brought in if Houck didn't believe he could play. Looks like an all pro on some plays and a 2nd string rookie on the next. Needs to dedicate himself to a diet and agility training.
OG- Bob Hallen: 0% He has been hurt for two years in a row. It might be time to start planning on his next career.
KR/RB- Leon Johnson: 25% Has never been able to stick with a team, good luck with the next one.
LT- Damion McIntosh: 50% Two years ago he was on his way to becoming a legitimate LT. However, he has spent the last two years hurt and burnt.
OG/OT- Solomon Page: 75% It's a shame that he can't stay healthy. However, he should be useful as a backup at OG-OT if the price is right.
DT- Joe Salave'a: 0% 107rd overall pick in 98', played with fire when he came in, but not enough BTU's to keep him around.
S/CB- Jerry Wilson: 75% He can play in this league, just not as a starter. Will be valuable special teams performer.

Gary Molyneux:

P- Darren Bennett: The popular Aussie has done the job as well as any punter in the NFL over the years. It will be a sad day when he RETIRES, possibly before next season. It's not often that I get all choked up about a punter. G'day, mate.
LS- David Binn: David could soon be the last link to our only Super Bowl team. His long snapping skills are unmatched in the league, and he has been one of the few consistent tacklers on special teams over the years. High salaried for a special teams player, but definitely a KEEPER.
K- Steve Christie: Steve is not currently under contract while the team pursues someone with a strong leg. That's what the team tried to do last year too, so he COULD BE BACK.
OT- Ed Ellis: Ellis is a really huge guy. He's not very good, but he is really, really huge. I have seen him block several kicks when angered. I also have this theory that the coaches were too afraid to tell him he was going to be released... You TOSS HIM!
LG- Kelvin Garmon: Has not progressed, despite his continuing status as line coach Hudson Houck's pet project. Even Mackintosh would be a better alternative at LG. That would sum up Garmon's play so far. A veteran who "plays like a rookie" would say basically the same thing, but that's just being mean. Honest, but mean. I say TOSS HIM, in fact, I say "don't let the door hit you on the ass on the way out", but Houck may have a bit more input than me.
OG- Bob Hallen: Hallen is a serviceable backup. He lacks strength, but has versatility to play anywhere on the line in a pinch (2nd string at guard, 3rd string at tackle or center). If the team carried only 9 linemen into the season he could get squeezed out, though he COULD BE BACK for a veteran-minimum salary depending on how the other personnel shift.
KR/RB- Leon Johnson: The "worlds slowest looking kick returner" was surprisingly effective last season, putting up some pretty decent numbers. He was undoubtedly helped by the fact that opposing tacklers often hesitated until they were completely convinced he was actually moving. COULD BE BACK at the right speed.
LT- Damion McIntosh: SackIntosh must consider a move inside to LG if he is to be re-signed. His ability to play outside is as questionable as his desire to play. Minor injuries have sidelined him for far too many games in the eyes of both coaches and fans. I'd say TOSS HIM, but with so many free agents on the Chargers offensive line, he could return as a LG or RT at the right price.
OG/OT- Solomon Page: Page might be the most talented lineman on the team, but the team will probably never know that, and he apparently doesn't want to return, either. See you at the unemployment line... TOSS HIM, before he changes his mind.
DT- Joe Salave'a: A midseason pickup, Joe COULD RETURN as a rotational DT next year for the right price, as he helped bolster the middle of the defense against the run late in the season. Visit for more details.
S/CB- Jerry Wilson: One of the warning signs for a last place finish is if players like Jerry Wilson are starting for you. For emergency use only. See instructions... TOSS HIM.

Rob Curtis:

P- Darren Bennett … The writing is on the wall and despite a good year, the Chargers have his replacement on the roster. His fabulous career for the Chargers is over. I wish him luck, because he is a class guy. (0%)
LS- David Binn … He's been a very good long snapper for a long time. These guys simply do not make much money and he probably will not want to go to take the risk of going to another team. I predict he'll be back (95%):
K- Steve Christie … I thought this guy was going to be cut last year, so what do I know. I believe that he will be brought into camp as fodder and a young kicker will have every chance to beat him out (50% on coming back, 10% on making the roster)
OT- Ed Ellis … If we restructure Parker and re-sign McIntosh, he will not make the roster. He might be invited to camp, but I don't see it as likely (25%)
LG- Kelvin Garmon … Garmon has been terrible against the pass and very good against the run. I just do not see us bringing him back based on his play last year. His lack of discipline showed in a significant amount of penalties. That said, the guy has been a pet of Houck, so I am going to increase the percentage chance to come back (25%). If it were up to me, that number would be 0%.
OG- Bob Hallen … He's a fringe guy who might come back at the minimum. I think he'll be in camp because of his versatility. I don't think he'll make the roster (50%)
KR/RB- Leon Johnson … He was a one year backup to Tomlinson, but I believe we will try to upgrade this position (10%)
LT- Damion McIntosh … Tough call. He has displayed talent, but Schottenheimer has questioned his toughness. When you look at the alternatives in free agency, he starts to look better (65%).
OG/OT- Solomon Page … A decent starter in Dallas early in his career, he has simply not played to the level you would think someone of his size and talent would. He moves on, because he will have the opportunity to do so (10%).
DT- Joe Salave'a … It's been nice knowing you Joe. We need to upgrade the position (5%)
S/CB- Jerry Wilson … I think we will look to upgrade this position (20%)

Tom Criswell:

P- Darren Bennett: I love this guy, he is a tough, rugged punter and his pooch punt is one of the best in the NFL. That said, Mike Scifres was drafted for a reason. Give the kid a chance there had to be a reason he was one of the best in College – time to let him prove it.
LS- David Binn: Chargers would be dumb not to bring him back. Long snappers are hard to find. Zeke Moreno was a long snapper in college and is his backup.
K- Steve Christie: See you later. Christie is not a fit for this team. They either need to trust in Hoambrecker or go after Kaeding. One or the other Christie should not be here next year.
OT- Ed Ellis: No – next.
LG- Kelvin Garmon: Garmon was the only starter who played the whole year, He deserves another shot, and with Fonoti coming back next year they could be a powerful tandem to deal with.
OG- Bob Hallen: I would not bring back Hallen. He was brought in to be a starter last year and lost his job to Garmon and Fonoti, and this past year he was an injured backup.
KR/RB- Leon Johnson: I think he took over and proved a viable backup. I do think he is to slow for the kickoff and punt returns though.
LT- Damion McIntosh: I would bring back McIntosh for one more year. He is a very good tackle -- when not injured -- and the Chargers need a veteran tackle with all the young talent they have.
OG/OT- Solomon Page: I like Solomon Page, I think when healthy he is a very good tackle. If you do not bring back McIntosh, I would definitely bring back Page.
DT- Joe Salave'a: The Chargers need a back up tackle if they do not bring back Fisk…
S/CB- Jerry Wilson: Wilson did a good job at safety, but that is not his natural position. With the emergence of Kiel, Lassiter coming back off injury, along with Milligan who showed promise in mini camp and preseason, Wilson could be limited or released.

Denis Savage:

P- Darren Bennett: They drafted a punter in the fifth round of the 2003 Draft, ending Bennett's days as a Charger. Plus, his recent comments against David Boston put him in a precarious position in San Diego and accurately reflect the man's passion for the game.
LS- David Binn: In a league that has just now put an emphasis on long snappers, he is one of the best. The bigger question is why he is relegated to one-year deals?
K- Steve Christie: Long awaited departure will happen.
OT- Ed Ellis: How do you reward a man who has been on the field for many of LaDainian Tomlinson's best performances? You say good-bye.
LG- Kelvin Garmon: With Fonoti expected back, he could be gone. He is not very good in pass defense, but has shown he can run block and do short pulls with the best of him. LT may want the big guy back,
OG- Bob Hallen: He has value as a backup, but likely won't return.
KR/RB- Leon Johnson: What they do with Dwight could influence the odds of bringing him back.
LT- Damion McIntosh: The Chargers were expecting a breakout season from the UFA to be but he has taken a huge step backwards. He is still solid in run blocking but his pass protection woes are becoming well documented. If he is back, it will not be as a left tackle.
OG/OT- Solomon Page: Provides depth at guard and tackle, a spot two rookies manned in 2003. His commitment to the game is in question and he probably thinks he is due more than he will get.
DT- Joe Salave'a: Signed midseason but won't be back as the team looks to upgrade the DT spot.
S/CB- Jerry Wilson: Provides depth but not expected back after being a step away from every play.

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