Will Bolts jump into the free agent pool?

If A.J. Smith is going to make a move in free agency, now is the time to strike. The expensive, opening wave of free agency has begun to ebb and there are still talented role players on the market. Smith may sign a couple of players to one-year deals, as to not disrupt his ability to re-sign his own upcoming free agents. Here are the available players who make the most sense.

Running back Anthony Thomas entered the NFL in the same draft class as LaDainian Tomlinson, actually edging out LT for Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. Although their careers have been on inverted paths since then, Thomas still has the size (6'2", 221 pounds) and power to be a serviceable backup.

Thomas could replace Michael Turner as the power back in San Diego's rotation. He is also an underrated receiver, having caught at least 15 passes in five of his seven seasons. For his career, he has 1,044 carries for 3,891 yards (3.7 ypc) and 23 rushing TDs.


OT L.J. Shelton
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Another offensive free agent who could fill a void—or a doorway, for that matter—is L.J. Shelton. The 6'6", 345-pounder entered the League as the first-round pick of the Arizona Cardinals in 1999. He spent the fix six years of his career in the desert before spending one season with the Cleveland Browns and two more with the Miami Dolphins. He has started 125 of 130 games in his career, including every game each of the last three seasons.

Shelton is nimble enough as a pass protector to play left tackle, and powerful enough as a run blocker to play right tackle. The Chargers need such a versatile player to provide depth behind Marcus McNeill and Jeromey Clarey. Last season's backups, Roman Oben and Shane Olivea, have both been released within the last five months.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Chargers' top needs are in the secondary. After losing Drayton Florence to the Jacksonville Jaguars and Marlon McCree to the Denver Broncos, the Bolts are in the market for some veteran backups.

On safety prospect to watch is Chris Crocker. SDBoltReport.com's Amberly Richardson wrote an article earlier detailing why Crocker is an excellent fit with the Chargers. This is still true nearly a month later.

At cornerback, the Chargers could look to pluck from a division foe by targeting Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Benny Sapp. In his four years with the Chiefs, Sapp has 103 tackles, 13 pass breakups and two interceptions. He is a bit undersized (5'9", 190 pounds) but has ample experience as a nickel back, which is the role he will fill with the Chargers.

Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the Scout.com network. He has followed the Chargers for more than 14 years and covered the team since 2003.


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