We’ve entered the awkward stage of the football season, when there’s not a lot of on-field action, but not too much off-field news either. It’s what leads people, both fans and media, to talk about things like the weather in New York/New Jersey nonstop. Sure there’s rumors about things like possible changes to the extra point and some game is being played in Hawaii on Sunday, but there’s not a lot of tangible news. There won’t be much next week either, but that’s understandable because it will be the week heading up to the Super Bowl. The excitement of the season doesn’t stop there, though.
On February 17, teams can start designating the franchise tag on an impending free agents. The Chargers likely won’t be using that this season, but they, and all the other teams have until March 3 if they choose to do so. The real fun begins five days later on March 8 when teams can start talking to the representatives for free agents. Nothing can become official before 4:00pm on March 11, but usually some verbal agreements are in place until then. Under first year general manager Tom Telesco, the Chargers didn’t make a big splash in free agency last offseason. Instead, they searched for undervalued players on cheap deals who could help the team. While signing the undervalued players, Telesco also let some of the overpriced players leave, not wanting to pay a premium for old age or underproduction. Telesco ended up laying a foundation for what would be a playoff team in 2013 with the cap space to add more in 2014. Before we get into what the Chargers could do in free agency coming up — there’s plenty of time for that — let’s take a look at what Telesco managed to do last offseason.
King Dunlap: two-years/$3.7 million
Dunlap was brought in to basically be a body to put at left tackle to allow rookie D.J. Fluker to adjust to the speed of the NFL game at right tackle. Dunlap was not very impressive in Philadelphia, but was able to hold up well in San Diego’s offensive system. He had some injuries causing him to miss five games, but the 11 games he started gave more production than expected and more than his $1.85 million annual salary is worth.
Danny Woodhead: two-years/$3.5 million
Woodhead’s contract is probably the steal of all free agency. After receiving very little interest coming out of New England, Woodhead signed with San Diego and became the best receiving running back in the league in 2013. He didn’t run the ball too much, but he was very efficient with 4.0 yards per carry on his 106 rushing attempts. He was also a very reliable pass blocker when he wasn’t going out for routes.
Dwight Freeney: two-years/$8.75 million
Freeney only had half a sack in the four games he played before missing the rest of the season with a quad injury, but he was around the quarterback more than the half a sack would suggest. In his four games, Freeney showed he still has the ability to rush the quarterback and getting him back for next season will almost be like adding a pass rusher in free agency without adding any additional salary. The over $4 million per year is a lot, especially when it’s more than $1 per game played this year, but even after missing most of the season this isn’t a contract that will hold down San Diego.