Chargers free agency players?

Dwight Smith, Edgerton Hartwell and Plaxico Burress would fill holes on the San Diego Chargers but as the free agency bell rings the Bolts will have their own list of players to sort through and don't figure to be in the market for the upper tier men.

While it is true the Chargers have secured a significant chunk of cap space this offseason, they will likely keep some of that cap room in the bank to ensure they are prepared for the 2006 season. If they do intend to keep Drew Brees, they may have to perform some checks and balances to ensure they can keep him if he has another successful season in '05.

The Chargers targeted a return man as one of their top priorities heading into the offseason and the release of Tim Dwight confirmed those feelings. They may even be close to acquiring their man.

The team does not want to go into the draft without an experienced returner and it was no surprise that Allen Rossum was atop the Chargers' wish list. Rossum has displayed the return capabilities the team seeks and would fit into the secondary during dime coverage.

If they don't sign Rossum, they could look for a player in the draft who fits two roles – a wide receiver who has return experience or a safety who has been a returner. They are certainly not fond of wasting a roster spot for a player that will only be used as a returner.

A call to Rossum's agent was not returned.

A source within the organization confirmed that the Chargers are seeking "depth at wide receiver, which could be in free agency or the draft, and a defensive lineman in free agency or the draft."

A position they did not mention is free safety. Jerry Wilson will not return and the Chargers don't figure to enter the Dwight Smith market, despite his friendship of Antonio Gates. Perhaps that is why the team hasn't been able to close a multi-year deal with Gates at the present time.

It would not be a surprise to see a safety added via free agency as Marty Schottenheimer prefers a veteran to lead the defense. The stipulation is that player must have above-average range.

At receiver, the Chargers would like to secure more than just depth – a true number one. That won't happen in free agency. The most likely course is in the draft. Reche Caldwell is in the final year of his deal and injuries and inconsistency have marred his development. Keenan McCardell is also in the final year of his deal and they would like to have a player who can grow into the role. They have been pleased with the continuing development of Eric Parker but feel they need another threat in the red zone.

One thing to remember when considering the deep threat that is coveted by all, it is not the Chargers strength. It does not matter if Brees or Philip Rivers are behind center because neither is known for their impressive down the field passing. Give them a player who can go up and catch the ball over a defender in the twenty yards range and each has the touch to deliver the strike.

Along the defensive line, the Bolts could make a splash in free agency – looking for a player who can take the left defensive end spot and run with it. Look for them to try and secure a mid-level player in free agency who they feel is on the cusp of a breakout season.

Don't be surprised if they follow that up with a high selection of a defensive lineman. That, above all else, is one of their top priorities this offseason.

Ryon Bingham may see some competition this year at backup nose tackle but the team thinks he can be a bull up front and are happy with his progress from injury. He could play a big role in the defense come 2005.

If there is one player who is flying under the radar after being in the doghouse this past season it would be Chris Hovan. He loves the game of football and a change of scenery could do him wonders. Whether he is on the Chargers preliminary list – well – that is another question.

It figures to be an interesting offseason for the Chargers and the word play will likely continue throughout the year with A.J. Smith and Marty Schottenheimer steering the ship.

SD Super Chargers Top Stories