Chargers Rumors

Chargers CB Michael Davis Signs Tender

Chargers cornerback Michael Davis signed his second-round tender, as Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. With that, Davis will earn roughly $3.3MM in 2020 on a one-year deal. 

[RELATED: Rams-Chargers Stadium May Not Be Ready For Season]

Davis was set for restricted free agency and the Bolts tendered him at the second-round level to keep other teams at bay. Last year, Davis started in all 12 of his games as the Chargers worked around a rash of injuries in the secondary. Derwin James, Adrian Phillips, and second-round rookie Nasir Adderley all succumbed to different maladies, thrusting Davis into the spotlight.

Davis, meanwhile, missed a pair of games due to a substance-abuse policy violation. All together, the advanced metrics were not wild about Davis’ performance – he graded out as one of the NFL’s worst qualified corners, according to Pro Football Focus. Still, he managed 39 stops and the first two interceptions of his career. It was, at minimum, enough for the Chargers to hang on to him for another season.

This year, the Chargers’ secondary will be bolstered by the arrival of Chris Harris, who is expected to play in the slot. The longtime Broncos star gives the Chargers three first-team All-Pros in the unit – Harris, James, and Desmond King – plus second-team All-Pro Casey Hayward. King, who excelled in the slot last year, will likely shift to safety.

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Rams-Chargers Stadium May Not Be Ready For Season

The Rams and Chargers may need contingency plans soon. Expected to open in July, SoFi Stadium is less certain to be ready for Week 1. Rams CEO Kevin Demoff is no longer committing to the site being ready by that time.

Our stadium, and I believe the Raiders’ stadium as well, will both be amazing when they are finished and when they will begin play, which will certainly happen in the near future, whether that’s in July, August, September, in 2021,” Demoff said, via Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times. “I don’t think you can look at either of these stadiums as short-term projects to finish but rather long-term beacons for the franchises and for the NFL.”

One of the workers on the Inglewood, Calif., site tested positive for COVID-19. Another is presumed to have the coronavirus, Farmer adds. The $5 billion project has long been scheduled to be completed in time for the 2020 season, but COVID-19 — as it’s done to many aspects of American life — has made this timeline less certain.

This is not the time you want to be finishing a stadium, in this environment as you prepare,” Demoff said. “Because it’s when you need to be all hands on deck, walking through the building every day, meeting with your staff, working out the kinks and planning for it. So when you’ve been building something for a few years, you would love an optimal environment to finish it.”

While the Rams playing at the Los Angeles Coliseum and the Chargers at Dignity Health Park would seemingly be the L.A. teams’ contingency plans, bigger issues loom. Earlier Saturday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said he does not envision a scenario in which California stadiums and arenas will be able to host fans. The NFL’s current stance is for fans to be allowed in stadiums and the season to start on schedule, though the league’s chief medical officer, Dr. Allen Sills, walked that back a bit.

Interestingly, Jeff Pash, general counsel to the NFL, said that not only do the Chargers and Rams have contingency plans in the event their stadium is not ready but that the Raiders do as well. The Raiders recently declined an option to play the 2020 season in Oakland and years ago UNLV’s Sam Boyd Stadium was deemed a non-starter. It is not clear what the Raiders’ alternate-site option is at this point.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pres. Trump: NFL Should Start Season On Time

In a conference call with 12 sports commissioners Saturday, President Donald Trump said the NFL should start its season on time, Adam Schefter and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com report. The president added that he hopes to have fans back in stadiums by August or September.

This would obviously be a major win for the NFL, which as of now plans to start its season on time and with fans in stadiums. However, considering the uncertainty COVID-19 has caused, it is difficult to determine how realistic a scenario of starting the season on time will be.

Trump said later Saturday afternoon he expects fans in stadiums and arenas “sooner than later” but added that he is not committing to the August-September range (Twitter links via NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo).

An NFL return by Week 1 would hinge on widespread coronavirus testing being available, according to NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills. The league proceeding with large groups of fans cannot be a known reality until a vaccine is available, Sills added (via Judy Battista of NFL.com). The vaccine timetable, as of this week, is approximately 18 months. Sills said the NFL will follow recommendations from public health officials.

I would say that’s everyone’s hope, that we are in a position to do that,” Sills said earlier this week regarding starting the season on time. “But the reality is none of us know those facts for certain right now. We hope and pray for the best and prepare for the worst, realizing that is one potential outcome that we will be back fully in business playing games as normal in front of fans on schedule. But it’s certainly not the only outcome.”

Asked Saturday about California teams having fans in stadiums by September, governor Gavin Newsom said he is not optimistic about such a scenario (Twitter link via CNN’s Ronald Brownstein). That would certainly create issues for the 49ers, Chargers and Rams.

The NFL’s offseason programs are on hold, but teams are not giving up hope on some type of ramping-up period before training camp. The league has closed all 32 teams’ facilities, and no more than 10 people can be in draft war rooms later this month. When exactly the league will return to on-field action is not known, but the NFL’s goal (and the president’s) is for the league to start its 101st season on time.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Chargers’ Mike Pouncey, QB Situation

Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn spoke at length with reporters yesterday, and two of the most significant topics he covered were the team’s quarterback situation and center Mike Pouncey‘s status.

Pouncey, who spent the first seven years of his career with the Dolphins, was released by Miami in March 2018 and quickly caught on with the Chargers. The pickup proved to be a savvy one for the Bolts, as Pouncey rewarded the team with a Pro Bowl performance and agreed to a one-year extension prior to the 2019 campaign that kept him under club control through 2020.

Unfortunately, the 2019 season did not go as planned for Pouncey or the Chargers. Pouncey landed on IR with a neck injury that required surgery, and as Lynn observed, the 30-year-old pivot has not yet been cleared for football activities (Twitter link via Jeff Miller of the Los Angeles Times). However, Lynn does expect Pouncey to be cleared by the time players reconvene — whenever that is — and he suggested that he is comfortable with the club’s other options in the event Pouncey is not ready to go. Dan Feeney, currently penciled in at left guard, and 2018 fifth-rounder Scott Quessenberry combined to fill the void left by Pouncey, but neither player performed particularly well in that role.

As for the team’s QB situation, Lynn confirmed that Tyrod Taylor is the team’s starter for now, as Lindsey Thiry of ESPN.com writes. That is not at all surprising given that the only other signal-caller currently on the roster is 2019 fifth-rounder Easton Stick, but Lynn did create a little intrigue. Per Thiry, Lynn was asked specifically about the Chargers’ interest in Cam Newton, and after initially avoiding a similar question, Lynn said, “[w]e’re looking at everybody. I want to turn over every single rock, so yeah, we’re looking at everybody.”

More likely than not, that statement is basic coach-speak. After all, we heard just a couple of weeks ago that the Chargers have no intention of acquiring another veteran QB to compete with Taylor, and it seems more plausible that the club will select a QB with the No. 6 overall pick and roll into the 2020 season with Taylor and the rookie passer at the top of the depth chart. On the other hand, Los Angeles is built to win now, and its offseason moves were clearly made with an eye towards competing in 2020. If healthy, Newton is a dramatic upgrade over Taylor — whose release would free up $5MM of cap space — so it stands to reason that Lynn would at least consider that option.

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Latest On QB Jordan Love

It is difficult to pinpoint exactly where Utah State QB Jordan Love will land in this month’s draft, and as such, he is generating interest from plenty of teams. Kevin Patra of NFL.com says that the Saints, Packers, Chargers, Raiders, Dolphins, and Colts have all been in contact with Love via FaceTime and other virtual means.

Despite an uneven 2019 season, Love possesses all the physical tools that a team could want in a signal-caller and showed enough of his ability at the scouting combine to create some buzz. So while teams like the Chargers and Dolphins have more immediate needs at quarterback, it’s not surprising that clubs like the Colts and the Packers would be taking a look as well, as they could have Love learn from their current starters while he continues to refine his game. Indeed, Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says Green Bay had planned to host Love and most of this year’s top QB prospects at its facility before pre-draft visits were cancelled (Twitter link). Of course, the Packers drafted Aaron Rodgers when Brett Favre was still playing at a high level, so if Love falls to them, perhaps they could make a similar move.

The Saints’ involvement is somewhat surprising since we heard last month that New Orleans was not interested in Love. But while the team holds Taysom Hill in high regard and views him as the heir to Drew Brees, the fact remains that Hill will be 30 in August and has thrown 13 passes in his professional career, so a little due diligence couldn’t hurt.

The Dolphins, meanwhile, are reportedly very high on Love. While Miami’s dream scenario remains one in which it acquires the No. 1 overall pick from Cincinnati to select Joe Burrow, the ‘Fins will definitely walk away from the draft with a high-end signal-caller in tow.

Love looked like such a player in 2018 by throwing 32 touchdowns against six interceptions. Unfortunately, his arm strength and stature didn’t yield the same results last year, as he had 20 TDs against 17 INTs while playing with a lesser supporting cast. But plenty of QBs have had disappointing final seasons in college and have gone on to do big things in the pros, and apparently a number of teams believe Love can do just that.

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Chargers To Use Chris Harris In Slot

Harris’ Los Angeles arrival puts King in an interesting position. King has become a high-end slot player for the Bolts, earning All-Pro recognition for the role in 2018. Harris said (video link via Pro Football Focus; h/t Chargers Legion) earlier this offseason the Chargers planned to move King to safety, where he played at Iowa. The contract-year defender being a full-time safety would allow the Bolts to start their four All-Pro defensive backs, but Anthony Lynn has yet to indicate how the team’s new secondary will look.

In signing Chris Harris, the Chargers now employ three first-team All-Pros (Harris, Derwin James, Desmond King) and a second-team All-Pro (Casey Hayward) in their secondary. Harris resided as the NFL’s slot kingpin for many years, but the injury-depleted Broncos used him almost exclusively on the outside last season. The four-time Pro Bowler confirmed Tuesday the Chargers informed him he will be their primary slot defender, per Daniel Popper of The Athletic (on Twitter). For most of his Broncos career, Harris played outside in base sets and inside in sub-packages.

Harris’ Los Angeles arrival puts King in an interesting position. King has become a high-end slot player for the Bolts, earning All-Pro recognition for the role in 2018. Harris said (video link via Pro Football Focus; h/t Chargers Legion) earlier this offseason the Chargers planned to move King to safety, where he played at Iowa. The contract-year defender being a full-time safety would allow the Bolts to start their four All-Pro defensive backs, but Anthony Lynn has yet to indicate how the team’s new secondary will look.

Bolts, Raiders Looking Into Justin Herbert

In the coronavirus-altered 2020 NFL landscape, teams are setting up video conferences with prospects. Two AFC West teams have scheduled chats with Justin Herbert.

The Chargers have spoken with the former Oregon quarterback, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that the Raiders have a FaceTime session set up with the coveted passing prospect on Monday. Teams can speak with a player for up to an hour three times a week leading up to the draft.

With limitations on how many video-chat sessions teams can conduct with prospects looser than the NFL’s usual 30-visit maximum, expect plenty of news to circulate about the top draft-eligible players’ virtual meetings. Herbert has been viewed as a top-10 player for years could require a trade-up past the Dolphins at No. 5. He has been mentioned as a Chargers target, and the Raiders have not been shy about doing due diligence on quarterbacks during Jon Gruden‘s second tenure with the franchise.

The Bolts have an interesting decision to make this offseason. After losing out on Tom Brady, they are not expected to chase another veteran. That would point to Los Angeles focusing on rookie successors to Philip Rivers with Tyrod Taylor as the bridge. However, both Cam Newton and Jameis Winston are now free agents. With the Chargers moving into a 70,000-seat stadium after a less-than-ideal L.A. introduction in a 30,000-seat venue, the team pursuing Newton would certainly raise its profile.

A Newton signing, however, would be costlier than the Bolts going with a Taylor bridge setup. Taylor has not been a full-time starter since 2017. The Bolts have also curiously added three high-profile 30-something free agents — Chris Harris, Bryan Bulaga, Linval Joseph — and their roster does not give off a rebuilding vibe. Their move at No. 6 overall will be one of the most interesting parts of the draft.

The Raiders signed Marcus Mariota to compete with Derek Carr. This would not prevent Gruden from selecting another quarterback, but Las Vegas would likely have to trade up to land Herbert. The Raiders have picks at No. 12 and No. 18. While Herbert likely will not be the only member of this year’s quarterback class the Raiders are connected to, they may well pop up on the QB-seeking radar before next year’s draft as well given their 2020 circumstances.

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POLL: Where Will Cam Newton Sign?

The quarterback carousel has mostly come to a stop, and a few big names were left without starting gigs when the dust settled. The highest profile signal-caller on the open market is Cam Newton, and it’s going to be very interesting to see where he ends up signing.

Newton won an MVP and led the Panthers to the Super Bowl in 2015, but his past two campaigns have been derailed by injuries. Last year he was limited to only two games because of a foot injury. The year before that he started the season off hot, but fell apart down the stretch once he started having shoulder issues. Since teams are unable to host free agents on visits due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it might be harder for Newton to find a home for a while with teams’ doctors being unable to examine him in person.

The Chargers are the betting favorite at sportsbooks offering odds on where Newton will end up, and it’s not hard to see why. Los Angeles is arguably a quarterback away from being a legit Super Bowl contender, and on paper they might have the most talented defense in the league. Tyrod Taylor is currently slated as the team’s starter and while he has been solid at times in the past with Buffalo, he doesn’t have the upside that Newton does.

The Chargers own the sixth overall pick however, and they’ve been linked to drafting a passer in the first-round. We also heard a couple weeks ago that they were no longer looking to add a veteran after they whiffed on Tom Brady, although that was before Newton became a free agent.

The Jaguars are another option, as they’re currently rolling with second-year player Gardner Minshew at quarterback and not much else. Minshew showed flashes last year, but he was hardly consistent. The Redskins are another conceivable suitor as they could reunite Newton with his old coach Ron Rivera, although we heard before he was released that they weren’t expected to be interested.

The Dolphins don’t have a firmly entrenched starter right now, but they’re widely expected to draft a quarterback in the first-round. If they surprisingly decide to pass on one, Newton could make sense as an upgrade over Ryan Fitzpatrick. Then there’s the Patriots. New England has a lot of uncertainty at the position after Brady’s departure, and all they have right now is the unproven Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer. Newton being paired with Bill Belichick would certainly be interesting, to say the least.

So where will the former first overall pick be playing next year? Vote in the poll below (link for app users) and show your work in the comments!

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Chargers Sign WR/KR Darius Jennings

The Chargers are adding a depth piece to their receiving corp. Los Angeles is signing receiver/returner Darius Jennings, his agent announced on Twitter.

Jennings entered the league as an undrafted free agent with the Browns back in 2015. He caught 14 passes for 117 yards in only four games as a rookie after getting promoted from the practice squad late in the year. He bounced around on various practice squads the next couple of years, resurfacing with the Titans in 2018. He operated as Tennessee’s kick returner that season, taking a kick back 94-yards for a touchdown and leading the league with a 31.7 yards per return average.

He was cut by the Titans midway through last season, but was re-signed in time for the playoffs and operated as their kick returner in two postseason games. The Chargers have Keenan Allen and Mike Williams at receiver but not a whole lot after them, so it’s certainly conceivable that Jennings will crack the roster.

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Contract Details: Funchess, Packers, Bell, Bengals, Vigil, Chargers

A few more recent contract figures to pass along:

  • Devin Funchess, WR (Packers): One year, $2.5MM. The $2.5MM is a far cry from the one-year, $10MM deal he got from the Colts last offseason. He got a $1MM signing bonus, $1.2MM base salary, and an extra couple hundred thousand in workout and roster bonuses. He has another $3.75MM in incentives available (via Tom Pelissero of NFL Network).
  • Vonn Bell, S (Bengals): Three years, $18MM. Bell got a $3MM signing bonus, with a $3MM base salary in 2020 and $1MM reporting bonus. He has base salaries of $4.1MM and $6.1MM in 2021 and 2022 respectively, with $400K in roster and workout bonuses in each of those years (via Albert Breer of SI.com).
  • Nick Vigil, LB (Chargers): One year, $2.4MM. Vigil had to settle for a prove-it deal despite starting 16 games for the Bengals last year. He got a $500K signing bonus, $1.9MM base salary, and can earn an additional $600K in playing-time incentives.