Unless the Chargers release Denzel Perryman and/or Thomas Davis retires, it is unlikely that the Chargers look toward free agency for a linebacker. With Drue Tranquil and Kyzir White possibly playing an expanded role next year, there isn’t much need to bring in any free agents. The team does need to address depth at the position though, especially with Jatavis Brown not re-signed. This will likely to be addressed late in the draft, but if the right opportunity presents itself, the Bolts could find depth in March. Look for the list of available free agents below:
- Joe Schobert – Cleveland Browns
- Blake Martinez – Green Bay Packers
- Nick Kwiatkoski – Chicago Bears
- Cory Littleton – Los Angelas Rams
- Kevin Pierre Louis – Chicago Bears
- Kamalei Correa – Tennessee Titans
- Alec Ogletree – New York Giants
- Danny Trevathan – Chicago Bears
- Reggie Ragland – Kansas City Chiefs
- AJ Klein – New Orleans Saints
- Darren Lee – Kansas City Chiefs
- Nick Virgil – Cincinnati Bengals
Doubtful the Bolts look to a player such as Cory Littleton who is going to break the bank. Instead, a potential target could be Reggie Ragland who the Chargers should be somewhat familiar with. Ragland had a slow start to his career, barely playing in Buffalo before being traded to the Chiefs in 2017. He is a sure tackler and has his moments of decent play in pass coverage. He also helped the Chiefs to win a Super Bowl this last year. He may not receive a long-term contract and could be a coupon find for a player that hasn’t really been a full-time starter. He could be a rotational player who ends up paying dividends to what ever team gives him a chance.
Kevin Pierre Louis
Kevin Pierre Louis hasn’t had much playing time, but he has been great in limited action and is one of my biggest sleepers in free agency. He didn’t really come out until late in the season last year, but he was phenomenal, especially in coverage. At 28-years-old, Louis in right in the middle of his prime and just needs the right situation to flourish. Gus Bradley’s defense seems perfect, considering he requires his linebackers to play lots of zone. Louis isn’t going to demand a long-term contract or a ton of money. He would provide depth to a young linebacker core, with a veterans presence.
For being on a terrible Bengals team, Nick Vigil really had a good year. He started slow but finished strong. He definitely had some bad games to be sure, but some of that can be attributed to the talent around him as well. I think that might actually lower his market value in free agency. Virgil had 114 tackles and made 44 stops. He did miss a lot of tackles, but again, I think that is more of a product of the talent around him. Given the opportunity and the right scheme, I really think Virgil could be an impactful player and a price that wouldn’t be too high.
- Vic Beasley – Atlanta Falcons
- De’Vondre Campbell – Atlanta Falcons
- Kamu Greiger-Hill – Philadelphia Eagles
- Mychal Kendricks – Seattle Seahawks
- Lorenzo Alexander – Buffalo Bills
- Sean Lee – Dallas Cowboys
- Nigel Bradham – Philadelphia Eagles
While Vic Beasley made his name known for getting after the QB, he is also athletic enough to play off the ball in coverage. Recently, he has had trouble doing what he was drafted to do, so maybe a scheme change could fix the issues. I expect him to have a big market, as many highly drafted players who underwhelm often do, and think it extremely unlikely that he becomes a Bolt. He did have a down year, only getting 4 sacks for the year, so there may be a team that see’s him as a linebacker that can be used in coverage. He is still an extremely talented player and I fully expect him to have a re-emergence with a change of scenery. It will be interesting to see if teams still view him as a pass rusher off the edge. Would love to see him wearing powder blue though!
An under the radar player that might be a good fit for the Chargers is De’Vondre Campbell. A year ago, he had 112 total tackles with only 7 missed. He earned decent grades from PFF against the run, but was a liability in coverage. He is still only 26 years old and he is faster than both Thomas Davis and Denzel Perryman, with 4.6 speed. I think he would make for a better middle linebacker, but he can be used to keep contain. He has great size at 6’4, 235 pounds and I think he could gain some weight. I think he could have a decent market as a young player that has shown a lot of growth. The Falcons want to keep him, but if he tests free agency, I think he could get $4-6M a year.
As fun as it would be to see a player of Cory Littleton’s caliber on the Chargers, I do not foresee the Chargers spending big time money at the position. Denzel Perryman looks to be on the roster next year as the teams thumper and it remains to be seen if Thomas Davis is back for a last year, or if he retires. Regardless, the Chargers are in need of depth and there are a few option available that will not cost the Chargers large chunks of cap.
Ideal Scenario: The Chargers sign Kevin Pierre-Louis to a 3-year, $15M contract. If Thomas Davis retires or Denzel Perryman is released, the Chargers will need an additional linebacker. Reggie Ragland could be signed to a 4-year, $24M contract. This gives the Chargers two quality linebackers, in addition to Kyzir White and Drue Tranquil.