Fitting the Chargers mold

With free agency about to begin, or so we believe, speculation is running wild about which free agents the Chargers might sign. They are one of the few teams in the league with substantial funds available, and there are many big-name pending free agents out there who have fans salivating.

Players like Charles Woodson and Terrell Owens are available, and both possess elite talent and would fill an area of need for the Chargers.

Though the Chargers have the money to sign either player, they won't. That's because they are not looking for the most talented free agents, they are looking for their kind of free agent. They want players who are durable, driven and dependable; they require attitude, aggression and attention to detail. So while Woodson and Owens are not the Chargers' kind of players, there are others who fit the mold quite well.

"We are excited about building our team," general manager A.J. Smith said. "We will explore all avenues. We want guys that are very talented, work ethic, passion for the game – tough, physical, competitive, committed guys. Team oriented players; if you get that mix then you are going to be in good shape. San Diego Chargers type players."

One such player is Jerame Tuman, a blocking tight end who has spent the last seven years in Pittsburgh. He has missed only four games since his rookie season, and has helped keep the Steelers' running game dominant during his time there. He would be an ideal compliment to Antonio Gates, and could help compensate for the mediocre run-blocking of the team's offensive line.

Another player who fits the Chargers' mold is safety Will Demps. A former undrafted free agent, Demps quickly worked his way into Baltimore's loaded rotation and has been a fixture there for the last four years. He is steady in coverage, can come up and play the run, and would challenge for either safety position in San Diego.

A final player who fits the Chargers' prototype is Ephraim Salaam. An eight-year veteran, Salaam has played for three teams, and everywhere he goes it seems his team is eager to replace him; but somehow he always lands on his feet and works his way back into someone else's starting line-up. He can play on either side of the line, and is a stabilizing influence for the players around him.

This is not to say that the Chargers will only target middle-tier free agents. Upper-echelon players such as LeCharles Bentley, Sam Madison and Mike Pearson fit the team's mold as well. The snag is that these players will carry high sticker prices, and the Chargers are a very cap-conscious organization.

So as free agency gets underway, expect the Chargers to be big-time players in the free agent market, even if they don't sign a single big-time free agent.

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