Bolts Notebook: Who's Coming In?

The Chargers have yet to make a move in free agency, but the wait won't last much longer. The team has visited with Jermaine Phillips and Kevin Burnett, either of whom could be a starter on Opening Day on defense. The Bolts also made a push to re-sign Drayton Florence and may look for another cornerback now that he's signed in Buffalo.

The Chargers offseason strategy is beginning to unfold. All indications are the team will rebuild its defensive back-seven in free agency and use the draft to shore up both lines. How the team will proceed at running back will be determined by LaDainian Tomlinson's renegotiation.

The team attempted to make its first move by bringing back CB Drayton Florence, according to this report by the Union Tribune. Florence ultimately opted to sign a two-year deal with the Buffalo Bills, but it shows the Chargers' intent to add a veteran to the defensive backfield.


CB Drayton Florence
Getty

Had Florence returned to San Diego, either he or Antoine Cason would have likely moved to free safety. The team has Quentin Jammer and Antonio Cromartie entrenched in the starting positions, with Cletis Gordon holding down the dime role and DeJuan Tribble hoping to stick as the fifth corner.

The UT also reported the Chargers could shop Cromartie if Florence was signed, although that story was quickly debunked by GM A.J. Smith. ESPN's John Clayton first reported that Cromartie was not on the trading block in this story, which ran before Florence signed with the Bills.

Still in search of veteran help for the secondary, the Chargers met with Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Jermaine Phillips on Monday and Tuesday.

Safety-shopping is nothing new for A.J. Smith, who has signed veterans Kwame Lassiter, Bhawoh Jue and Marlon McCree since taking over as GM in 2003. None of those players lasted more than two seasons with the Chargers.

Smith believes Phillips could be different, based on what he told the team's official website in this story.

"Jermaine is a talented, physical veteran and we were excited to have an opportunity to get to know him better," Smith told Chargers.com. "He's played a role on some very good defenses. We enjoyed visiting with him."

Also visiting the Chargers this week was Dallas Cowboys linebacker Kevin Burnett. Burnett is familiar with the Chargers' style of defense, having played under former coordinator Wade Phillips for the last two seasons with the Cowboys.

Burnett was primarily a backup with the Cowboys, starting just two games each of the last two seasons, but could push Tim Dobbins and Matt Wilhelm for a starting job with the Chargers.

Wilhelm was expected to be a fixture at inside linebacker after signing a new five-year contract at the end of the 2006 season, but he authored a disappointing campaign in 2008. However, his 2009 cap number is about $2.5 million, so the Chargers could afford to keep him as a backup.


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