Season in Review: Fullbacks

Fullback, perhaps the most under appreciated position in the NFL is under our scrutiny today. The job of a fullback is mainly to block and pave the way for superstar LaDainian Tomlinson. When Tomlinson breaks a long run, after the game, the fullback's locker remains quiet, even though he may have been the one to spring LT. Fred McCrary and Joey Goodspeed hold the fort at the fullback position, but what is the future in San Diego at this position.

FULLBACKS

Fred McCrary had a tough 2001 season. He struggled with his weight and wore down as the year went on. In 2002, he decided it was his mission to improve and make LaDainian Tomlinson one of the best backs in the league, and to protect young quarterback Drew Brees.

Coach Marty Schottenheimer took McCrary off special teams for the season, and that seemed to add some fire to McCrary.

His season totals are not awe inspiring as he caught 22 passes for 96 yards with three touchdowns to go along with two carries for 1 yard. That was never his role though. His main role is blocking, blocking in the running game and blocking in the passing game. He did that, and did it well.

At 6-feet, 245 pounds, the 6th year pro, 4th as a starting fullback, was left unprotected in the expansion draft last offseason. That alone begs the question, what does his future hold?

Let's face the facts; this offseason holds the best fullbacks to ever dot the market. So much so we featured them here:

Fullbacks on the Market

McCrary DID have a bounce back season. In May of 2000 he signed a 4 year deal worth $2.95 million with a signing bonus of $400,000. Now he enters the final year of that contract and will make upwards of $725,000.

The other fact is McCrary helped LT have a breakout season in which he ran for 1,683 yards rushing with what was thought to be a suspect offensive line (which was proved wrong).

Not to mention LT swears by him, "He did come into this year with a chip on his shoulders, saying, ‘Hey, I'm going to show them that I'm a fullback to be reckoned with and not just some throwaway guy,'" running back LaDainian Tomlinson said back in October. "I think that was his attitude, ‘that I'm going to show 'em'. And he has."

To release McCrary at this stage would not make sense. The Chargers do need to get better in short yardage situations and a fullback is a nice weapon to have in regards to running third down and ones, but to cut a salary and take a hit, then to sign a new fullback would cost the Chargers too much. Getting those short yards in crucial situations will have to take another path.

Joey Goodspeed, former Notre Dame Alum, is the second fullback on the roster. Goodspeed enters this offseason as an exclusive rights free agent. The Chargers must decide if he can contribute more than he did this past season.

Goodspeed was used primarily as a special teams specialist. He had 11 tackles on special teams, second only to Carlos Polk's 12. Goodspeed has the tools that are similar to Marc Edwards. He is tough, physical and will get his nose dirty. At 6-1, 247 pounds, the Chargers must decide if he can be used as a short yardage back that can get those tough yards. Goodspeed had no rushes this past season, so his future may be sealed.

Look for McCrary to stick and the Chargers to look for another fullback who can run short yardage plays and provide yet another option off the bench via the Draft or an undrafted player.

Up Next: CENTER

SD Super Chargers Top Stories