As the deadline for wide receiver Vincent Jackson to sign his restricted free agent tender creeps closer, the Chargers are preparing for a future without his services.
This past Friday they made their latest move during this preparation process when they signed ex-Bill Josh Reed to a one-year contract. Already having eight years of NFL experience under his belt, Reed has been able to prove himself to be a seasoned veteran, with over 300 receptions as well as ten touchdowns throughout his career thus far.
Despite the amount of productivity that they would lose in Jackson, there are plenty of worthy replacements that bolster this Charger receiver corps. Number two receiver, Malcom Floyd, who recently signed his restricted free agent tender, has done an outstanding job for the Chargers in his six years with the team. Throughout his Charger career, he has nabbed 97 catches for 1,597 yards and nine touchdowns.
In his three years with the team, Legedu Naanee has proven that he can be a valuable backup and has shown glimpses of excellence when given the chance. Having only started one game last season, he was still able to haul in 24 balls for 242 yards and two touchdowns.
To go along with this veteran presence, the Chargers have a stable of young receiver talent that has yet to be unleashed on the playing field.
Gary Banks, who spent last year on the practice squad, has gotten plenty of reps in light of Jackson’s absence and is hoping that his time in the coaches’ eyes has earned him a chance at seeing the field when September rolls around.
Craig and Buster Davis both have a couple years of NFL experience under their belts, and are hoping to capitalize on this opportunity to push for playing time.
Seyi Ajirotutu has proven himself a worthy candidate for playing time this offseason after being signed as an undrafted rookie free agent.
Among all of these players, there are still another five undrafted rookies who are looking to earn a spot on the roster and hopefully work their way into the game day rotation when the regular season gets under way. These five players include Richard Goodman, Earnest Smith, Jordyn Jackson, Bryan Walters, and Jeremy Williams, in no particular order.
Although Jackson’s play-making abilities appear to be irreplaceable, the Chargers have a plethora of talent from which they can delve into if need be. With a quarterback as talented as Philip Rivers, an excellent tight end in Antonio Gates, and two talented running backs in rookie Ryan Mathews and veteran Darren Sproles, the Chargers’ offense should have no problem finding ways to move the ball down the field, with or without Jackson.
Even in the case of a Jackson-less San Diego, the Chargers’ offense obviously still overflows with talent. This will allow veteran players to prove their worth and rookie players a chance to prove they can handle the pressure of the big stage.