When the San Diego Chargers were eliminated from the playoffs four weeks ago, we imagined the biggest offseason storylines would involve Ken Whisenhunt and areas of improvement on defense. However, we did not know the wide receiver position, one appearing extremely deep at the end of 2013, would become an issue for the Chargers this February.
The Chargers have the foundation at the position locked up for the foreseeable future in Pepsi NEXT Rookie of the Year, Keenan Allen. Across from Allen was supposed to be either big bodied play-maker, Danario Alexander, or the solid veteran presence of Malcolm Floyd. The continued development of Allen hangs on the existence of a receiver capable of creating separation on the opposite side of the field. In 2013, neither Vincent Brown nor Eddie Royal were enough the threat the Chargers needed to push the offense over the top. While Royal got off to a strong start, his injury history and large cap number make him a question mark in 2014. Additionally, the offense’s preference for 12 personnel (two wide receivers, two tight ends, and one running back) could limit the need for a slot presence. Brown will, in all likelihood, be back next year, but the Chargers were counting on Alexander or Floyd to provide another dimension. Unfortunately, Danario Alexander had another surgery on his knee and went from likely re-signing with San Diego to presumably becoming a free agent in March. Bad news has also come in the form of Malcolm Floyd’s neck injury now being categorized as potentially career-threatening. With all these bad breaks, where will the Chargers turn for help? The draft may be one path, but the answer may already be on the Bolts’ roster.
Meet Dontrelle Inman. The former Toronto Argonaut was signed to a futures contract by the Chargers in early January after being released from his CFL contract in December. The Argonauts did Inman a favor releasing him early so he could audition for NFL teams and according to Sportsnet’s Arash Madani, Inman received a signing bonus with the Chargers indicating the team is interested in giving him a shot to be more than a backup plan.
After a breakout senior season at the University of Virginia, Inman was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Having been cut shortly after, he signed with the Argonauts and was a dynamic part of the team’s 2012 Grey Cup title. Inman caught 50 balls during both of his seasons in Toronto for 803 and 739 yards respectively. I really like his potential in San Diego because his strengths are exactly what the Chargers need on offense: someone to take the top of the defense. The 6’3” 204 pound receiver ran a 4.4 at his pro day in Virginia and has a 34 inch vertical. At his height, he could be exactly what San Diego needs in multiple wide receiver formations. The deep threat has been missing from this offense since the departure of Vincent Jackson, and Inman would force safeties to stay true. I don’t know if he will be the player that eventually plays across from Allen, but I am excited to see what he can do this training camp and see if he earns a spot on the roster.
The list of NFL stars having played in the CFL includes the likes of Cameron Wake and Brandon Browner, and maybe, Dontrelle Inman will be the next former CFL star to make an impact in America.
Thanks to Argo’s fan, Russ, for the insight.
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