Chargers Rumors

Mike Williams Envisions Role Changing

  • After two years either marred by injuries or featuring constraints by his role, Mike Williams expects his usage rate to spike in 2019. The Chargers are thinner at wide receiver but have their 2017 first-round pick set to pick up the slack after Tyrell Williams‘ departure. “My role is going to expand with Tyrell leaving. I’m looking forward to that,” Williams said, via Chargers.com. “I feel I’m going to get a lot more opportunities than I did last year.” Williams saw the third-most snaps among Bolts wideouts last year (732, more than 100 fewer than Tyrell Williams) but still caught 10 touchdown passes (after not scoring as a rookie).

Chargers Sign Third-Round Pick Trey Pipkins

The Chargers have officially wrapped up their draft class, as the team announced they’ve signed offensive tackle Trey Pipkins to his rookie contract. Pipkins, the 91st pick in April’s draft, was the last player in Los Angeles’ class to sign.

Pipkins played at D-II school Sioux Falls, so not a ton was known about him entering the draft. The first player in program history to be drafted into the NFL, Pipkins was a D-II All-American last season. The Chargers likely didn’t anticipate Pipkins playing much early on when they drafted him, but he could be forced into action. Left tackle Russell Okung is dealing with a mysterious injury, which could give Pipkins an opportunity sooner than expected.

NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein viewed him as a developmental prospect, and someone who would need a good amount of time to sit and learn. As such, it won’t be good news for the Chargers if he’s thrust into action due to Okung’s injury.

Third round picks are often among the last to sign, because the CBA language concerning them is very vague. As of Thursday, there were only 26 picks left unsigned. You can view the contract status of every draft pick at our tracker here.

Russell Okung Uncertain For Training Camp

Whatever Russell Okung is dealing with, it’s fair to say that it’s not too minor. Word surfaced earlier this week that the Chargers left tackle is dealing with a mysterious injury, and we still don’t know what it is yet.

That being said it’s safe to assume it’s something significant, as Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com reports the Chargers don’t know if he’ll be ready for training camp next month (Twitter link). The Chargers have had some tough injury luck in recent years, so hopefully Okung doesn’t have to miss any regular season action.

Ever since signing a four-year, $53MM deal with the Chargers in March of 2017, Okung has been one of the offensive line’s few consistent pieces. He’s started 15 games each of the past two seasons, and it would be a massive blow if Los Angeles had to go any time without him. As of right now right tackle Sam Tevi is filling in for him in practice, while Trenton Scott has been playing right tackle.

Scott is a second-year UDFA who played sparingly as a rookie, so ideally the Chargers won’t have to count on him in 2019. It’s rare for a player to be able to keep an injury under wraps this long without word leaking out, and we should know a lot more soon. The folks over at Pro Football Focus gave Okung a 78.4 grade last year, ranking him as the 11th-best tackle in the league.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chargers Sign Second-Round S Nasir Adderley

The Chargers have signed second-round safety Nasir Adderley, the club announced today.

Adderley will join 2018 first-round pick and first-team All-Pro Derwin James in Los Angeles’ defensive backfield, joining an excellent secondary that also includes safety Adrian Phillips and cornerbacks Casey Hayward, Desmond King, and Trevor Williams. The 60th overall pick in the draft, Adderley will attempt to replace the 1,000+ snaps departed by Jahleel Addae, whom the Chargers released earlier this year.

Adderley, a Delaware product, will likely play a center field-type role for Los Angeles, allowing James to be deployed closer to the line of scrimmage. Lance Zierlein of NFL.com praised Adderley’s speed, noting that trait will allow the two-time All-CAA honoree to play in single-high safety looks, and compared him to second-year Bengals starter Jessie Bates.

Per Over the Cap, Adderley will receive a four-year pact worth roughly $4.732MM. He’ll collect a signing bonus of ~$1.462MM, and count for $860K on Los Angeles’ 2019 salary cap.

Here’s the full Chargers 2019 draft:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Russell Okung Injury Severity Not Yet Known

Chargers left tackle Russell Okung did not practice Tuesday due to an undisclosed injury, head coach Anthony Lynn said (Tweet via ESPN’s Eric Williams). When asked if the injury could potentially be longterm, Lynn responded with an ominous, “We don’t know yet.” 

That type of response will not help Chargers fans rest easy. A two-time Pro Bowl left tackle, Okung, 31, is entering his third season with a Chargers team that many expect to contend with the Chiefs for the AFC West crown in 2019.

With Okung out of practice, the Chargers shifted Sam Tevi to left tackle and Trent Scott played right tackle. The team did spend a third-round pick in April’s draft on Trey Pipkens, a 6-foot-6 tackle from little-known Sioux Falls.

Okung posted a grade of 78.4 on Pro Football Focus, making him the No. 11-ranked tackle in the NFL. In his time with the Chargers, Okung has missed just two games, one of which came due to a groin injury in 2018. In his first season with the Chargers, the team allowed the fewest sacks in the league (18) and ranked just outside the top 10 in sacks allowed the following season.

Okung is entering the third year of a four-year deal that will pay him $13MM in each of the next two seasons.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chargers, Melvin Gordon In Preliminary Contract Talks

Chargers RB Melvin Gordon is entering the final year of his rookie contract, and he indicated that his agent has had preliminary talks with the team about a long-term deal, as Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com writes.

Gordon, who is due a modest $5.61MM this year under his fifth-year option, obviously wants a new, more lucrative contract. While he did not sound like someone who is contemplating a holdout, he did not rule out the possibility either. He said, “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want a deal done. But that’s not going to stop me from coming out here and doing what I need to do. We’re going to see. I would like to go out there and have it done. We’re talking right now, and that’s kind of where I’m going to leave it.”

We examined Gordon’s case for an extension back in March. At the time, we noted that GM Tom Telesco is open to considering an extension for Gordon, but that Telesco did not offer a timetable for getting a deal done.

Gordon does not have eye-popping YPC numbers in his career (he has averaged 4.0 yards per carry over his four professional seasons), but he did manage 5.1 yards per tote in 2018. He is also a major weapon as a receiver, compiling over 400 receiving yards in each of the past three seasons. He has 28 rushing touchdowns and 10 receiving scores in his career, and he was a key part of the Chargers’ return to the postseason last year.

As a result, the Wisconsin product stands to cash in and will surely be paid at the high end of the running back market. Todd Gurley is currently the pacesetter with an average annual value of $14.375MM and $45MM in guarantees, while Le’Veon Bell recently landed a $13.125MM/year pact. The Cardinals’ David Johnson is now working under a $13MM/year deal that includes $32MM in guarantees.

Head coach Anthony Lynn offered the following: “Melvin Gordon is extremely important to us. When he’s out here on the field, he works his tail off. He’s gotten better every year that I’ve been here. I think he’s headed in the right direction. If he just goes out and keeps doing what he’s been doing, that contract stuff will take care of itself.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chargers Sign First-Round Pick Jerry Tillery

The Chargers have signed 2019 first-round draft choice Jerry Tillery, per a team announcement. In accordance with his slot, Tillery will receive a four-year, $11.4MM deal with a $6.3MM signing bonus.

The Bolts had just three defensive tackles on the roster going into the 2019 draft, so Tillery, a 6-6, 300-pound DT from Notre Dame, filled an obvious need. Plus, GM Tom Telesco said Tillery was the only player left on his board with a first-round grade by the time the Chargers were on the clock with the No. 28 overall pick (h/t Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com).

Los Angeles would continue to add front-seven talent in the draft after the Tillery selection, but Tillery’s ability to generate an interior pass rush is particularly appealing given that it could open up even more opportunities for Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. Tillery did suffer a torn labrum in his shoulder during his final collegiate season, which ultimately required surgery, but he is still expected to be ready for training camp.

In his final year with the Fighting Irish, Tillery registered seven sacks and 8.5 tackles for a loss. He also had a strong showing at the combine, including the best SPARQ score (a measurement of overall athleticism) of any defensive linemen.

With Tillery in the fold, only second-rounder Nasir Adderly and third-rounder Trey Pipkins remain unsigned from the Chargers’ 2019 draft class.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 6/3/19

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here:

Atlanta Falcons

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Los Angeles Chargers

Washington Redskins

Darren Sproles Eyeing Eagles, Saints, Chargers?

It was about two months ago that free agent running back Darren Sproles said he’d make a decision regarding his NFL future by May. Well, it sounds like the 35-year-old may need a bit more time making a decision.

During an appearance on 97.5 The Fanatic, ESPN’s Adam Schefter said Sproles would be willing to wait for the right offer, even if it comes during the latter part of the summer (via Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com). Furthermore, Schefter hinted that the running back would prefer to play for one of his former teams. Specifically, that’d mean the Eagles, Saints, or Chargers are atop Sproles’ list. Of course, Schefter also notes that the running back would be open to other opportunities.

After a broken arm and a torn ACL limited him to only three games during the Eagles’ Super Bowl-winning 2017 campaign, Sproles said the 2018 season would be his final year in the NFL. However, Sproles ended up being hampered by injuries once again, limiting him to only six regular season games. He was still relatively productive when he was on the field; he paired 120 rushing yards (and a rushing touchdown) with 15 receptions for 160 yards and two scores.

Of course, Sproles continues to get older; if he plays in 2019, he’d be the second-oldest player at his position (behind Frank Gore). While any team would take a chance on a savvy veteran who possesses some pass-catching prowess, it’s uncertain if any of Sproles’ former teams would have interest.

The Eagles have a crowded depth chart that features Jordan HowardCorey Clement, Josh Adams, and Wendell Smallwood. The Saints brought in Latavius Murray to serve as Alvin Kamara‘s backup, but the team lacks experience behind that duo. The Chargers’ trio of Melvin GordonAustin Ekeler, and Justin Jackson seem to have a solid hold on the top-three spots, but Sproles could theoretically play a return role alongside Desmond King in Los Angeles.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bosa Says Foot Is Still Bothering Him

  • Chargers pass-rusher Joey Bosa has been a star ever since he entered the league. As a rookie he had 10.5 sacks despite missing the first four games of the season due to a contract holdout, and he’s been dominant off the edge ever since. But the Ohio State product was hobbled by a foot injury that cost him the nine games of last season, and he wasn’t quite the same after he returned. Speaking to the media recently after practice, Bosa conceded that the injury is still bothering him. “It’s just there. It’s just something I notice. It’s been getting better all offseason, so I could definitely see by camp or maybe even next year where it kind of starts fading away,” Bosa said, per Adam Maya of NFL.com. Foot injuries can be tricky, so it’s somewhat alarming that Bosa is still feeling soreness in his foot after this long, but Maya notes he did say it’s feeling “well enough for him to avoid a Lisfranc-type surgery.” This will be a situation to monitor this offseason.