- A back injury could sideline Chargers first-round wide receiver Mike Williams for his rookie season, but they should have the weaponry to survive his absence, notes Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com. With Keenan Allen returning from an injury-marred 2016 to complement Tyrell Williams, Travis Benjamin and Dontrelle Inman – all three of whom were productive last year – the Bolts figure to boast a strong corps of wideouts. The Chargers also have an enviable tight end duo (Hunter Henry and Antonio Gates) and pass-catching running back Melvin Gordon, who racked up 41 receptions last season, giving quarterback Philip Rivers plenty of proven targets.
3:35pm: We now have conflicting info regarding Williams. Two sources with direct knowledge of the situation tell Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) that surgery is not a consideration, though it was a possibility as recently as three or four weeks ago. Williams, he hears, is improving.
Williams recently received a second epidural on his back in a last-ditch effort to get him ready in time to participate in training camp, even if it only meant participating in the latter portion of it. As of right now, the team is unsure about whether he’ll be able to take the field in August. They’re hoping he’ll respond well to the epidural, but if he does not, there is a real chance that he will miss the entire 2017 season.
“This may be a lot more serious than people thought,” said one source who spoke with Schefter.
The Chargers have known about the issue since at least May, but it’s not clear when the injury first occured. Williams’ issue first became apparent to the Bolts during the rookie minicamp in the spring, but one source said it’s possible it was injured at the combine and during his pro day. Williams performed well at both events, so the Chargers might not have picked up on the problem.
The Chargers selected Williams with the No. 7 overall pick in this year’s draft. Los Angeles was hoping to slot Williams in as the team’s No. 2 wide receiver this year, providing support to top target Keenan Allen. If Williams is ruled out for the year, it will be a major setback for the Chargers’ offense.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
- Thanks to the relocations of the Rams, Chargers and Raiders, the league’s other 29 teams will each receive a gross sum of $55.2MM over an 11-year span, reports Darren Rovell of ESPN. The two Los Angeles teams, the Rams and Chargers, will each pay a $645MM relocation fee from December 2019 to December 2028, while the soon-to-be Las Vegas Raiders will owe $378MM. They won’t have to begin paying until the year they actually move to Vegas.
- The Chargers signed a 10-year lease at their new facility in Costa Mesa, Calif., Jack Wang of the Orange County Register reports. The team is committed to lodge there for at least five years, per Wang, who adds that the Bolts have until the end of this month to depart their facility at Chargers Park in their previous city. Costa Mesa is currently serving as the Bolts’ temporary home, but the team hasn’t ruled out staying there on a longer-term basis. Wang reports the Chargers are still looking to secure permanent headquarters elsewhere in the region.
- The Chargers‘ revamped offensive line could alleviate pressure on quarterback Philip Rivers, USA Today’s Joe Curley writes. This year, the Bolts used three of their seven draft picks on offensive linemen after allowing the most pass pressures in the league over the past three seasons. The additions of Western Kentucky guard Forrest Lamp, Indiana guard Dan Feeney, and free agent tackle Russell Okung may allow Rivers more time to work with in the pocket. All three are projected to start on the Chargers’ new-look O-Line.
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, set to enter his age-35 season and his 14th in the NFL, doesn’t see retirement on the horizon. “I don’t want to hang on at the end and just be a guy that’s hanging on,” Rivers told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. “But if I still feel like I can help a team and I enjoy it the way I do and more importantly, if the team feels that I can help them. … I don’t see myself shutting it down any time real soon.” Rivers, who still has three years remaining on his contract, posted the fifth 30-touchdown and eighth 4,000-yard campaign of his career last season, though he also tossed a personal-worst 21 interceptions as a member of an injury-plagued, five-win team.
Dunlap was released by the Chargers back in March and even though he is retiring today, he did have opportunities to play elsewhere, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). The Broncos were said to have some level of interest in Dunlap following his release, but we haven’t heard his name much in the last three months. That’s a sign that Dunlap has been thinking about hanging ’em up for a while now.
Dunlap, an Auburn product, entered the league as a seventh-round pick of the Eagles in 2008. After going No. 230 overall, he made several teams regret passing on him as he became a quality lineman for Philly. In his final year with the Eagles, Dunlap made 12 starts and parlayed that promotion into a free agent contract with San Diego.
In four years with the Chargers, Dunlap started in all 46 of his appearances. However, Pro Football Focus rated him as just the No. 53 tackle in the NFL last season in what was his second straight injury-shortened campaign. Dunlap, who turns 32 in September, will now get to heal from all of his nagging injuries as he exits football.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The AFC West produced by far the biggest news this weekend, with the Chargers and Melvin Ingram agreeing to a four-year, $66MM extension that comes with $42MM guaranteed. Here’s more coming out of the Western divisions, as seven of the divisions’ eight teams are scheduled to hold their mandatory minicamps from Tuesday-Thursday.
- The agreement between Ingram and the Chargers is not yet official, but only a Monday trip to Chargers park in San Diego and a pending physical remain before Ingram signs the contract and becomes the third-richest defender in the AFC West, Dan Woike of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. This will clear a path for Ingram to participate in minicamp. Von Miller‘s six-year, $114MM pact and Justin Houston‘s six-year, $101MM agreement surpass Ingram’s. But the gap between Ingram and the division’s fourth-highest-paid defender (per AAV), Eric Berry, is significant. The AFC West figures to soon house four top-tier defensive contracts once the Raiders extend Khalil Mack at a price that could well surpass Miller’s agreement.