Corey Liuget Jersey

COSTA MESA, Calif. — The Los Angeles Chargers announced on Wednesday they will not exercise the 2019 option on the contract of defensive tackle Corey Liuget, the longest-tenured player on defense.

The move means Liuget will become a free agent in March. However, Chargers general manager Tom Telesco said it remains a possibility for Liuget to re-sign with the Chargers in free agency.

Liuget joins fellow defensive linemen Brandon Mebane, Darius Philon and Damion Square as Chargers set to hit free agency in March.

“While we did not exercise the 2019 option in Corey’s contract and he will now become a free agent on March 13, the door is certainly not closed for a possible return in the future,” Telesco said in a statement.

Selected No. 18 overall by the Chargers in the 2011 draft out of Illinois, Liuget was due to make $8 million in 2019, including a $4 million roster bonus due on the third day of the new league year in March.

After serving a four-game suspension to start the 2018 season for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs, Liguet returned to the field in Week 5 and played well defensively for the Chargers, but he suffered a season-ending torn right quad in a Week 11 loss against the Denver Broncos.

The 28-year-old Liuget totaled 14 combined tackles and 1.5 sacks in six games played, including three starts. He recorded 274 combined tackles and 24 sacks in eight NFL seasons.

Liuget had surgery in December to repair his torn quad in New York and returned there to rehab. He said he hopes to be on the road to recovery by March and available to participate in some aspects of offseason work.

A roller-coaster season for Liuget ended on a high note when the Chargers nominated the defensive tackle for the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, presented to a player from each team for their commitment to community service work.

“For me, it’s everything because he’s a guy that I idolized growing up, someone that I looked up to,” Liuget said about Payton.

The honor for Liuget was unusual because of his suspension for violating the PED policy.

Liuget is suing former trainer Ian Danney for $15 million in damages due to lost wages, pain and suffering he believes were caused by his positive test.

“To know that the team looked at me as a guy that’s always doing something good in the community and they can count on me to go and represent them as a good, outstanding person in the community is important,” Liuget said.

A South Florida native, Liuget last year met and worked out with the Marjory Stoneman Douglas football team to honor former assistant coach Aaron Feis, one of the 17 victims of the Parkland shooting.

Liuget donated $10,000 to the team and created the Coach Aaron Feis Scholarship Fund to help support members of the team. The scholarship will be awarded to a graduating member of the team who exhibits characteristics representative of who Feis was and the traits he valued.

Kyle Emanuel Jersey

Though Corcoran was a defensive end in college, he figures to be a standup linebacker in the Chargers’ defensive scheme. He will be counted upon to put pressure on the quarterback and proving that he can do that at the next level will be the key to his playing career continuing.

At 6-foot-3 and 251 pounds, he is too small to play defensive end in the NFL. An immediate comparison can be made to former Chargers linebacker Kyle Emanuel, who recently retired. Emanuel, once selected in the fifth round out of North Dakota State played defensive end in college but was an outside linebacker for the Bolts.

He is just about the exact same size as Corcoran.

During his college career, he registered 16.5 sacks and 27.5 tackles for loss. He really stepped up as a senior with 10 sacks, good for second most on the team.

So who is ahead of him on the depth chart? Quite a few players, actually.

Linebacker is a position the Chargers have placed plenty of focus on over the last two offseasons. The team drafted Uchenna Nwosu and Kyzir White last season before signing veteran Thomas Davis as a free agent this past March. They followed that move by selecting Drue Tranquill in the fourth round and Emeke Egbule in the fifth round of the most recent draft. Don’t forget, Jatavis Brown is still around.

If that isn’t enough, undrafted linebacker Elijah Ziese will also be competing for a spot on the roster.

Corcoran had a fairly productive college career but moving from Northern Illinois to the City of Angels and keeping that level of production will be no easy task.

Travis Benjamin Jersey

The challenge was issued and accepted and, at least according to Travis Benjamin, then went strangely silent.

Longtime NFL wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. appeared on Bleacher Report’s “The Lefkoe Show” this month and offered to race anyone for $10,000.

“I will accept it, man,” Benjamin said Tuesday after the Chargers concluded their latest offseason workout. “When I wrote them, they didn’t write me back. So I knew what that was.”

Ginn, 34, plays for New Orleans and is entering his 13th season. He ran a 4.37-second 40-yard dash before the 2007 draft.

Benjamin, 29, is entering his eighth season and fourth with the Chargers. His 40 time during the 2012 combine was 4.36.

“I won’t back down from a challenge, not one bit,” Benjamin said. “I’m a competitive person. You want to get on the field and race, we can race.”

The Chargers need Benjamin to be more than just fast in 2019. Coming off a season in which he struggled to stay healthy, Benjamin is the No. 1 option to help replace Tyrell Williams.

A free agent, Williams signed in March with Oakland, a four-year deal worth up to $47 million, a figure that was beyond the Chargers’ budget given their limited cap space.

Williams led the team last season with an average of 15.9 yards per catch and had the Chargers’ longest play from scrimmage, a 75-yard touchdown reception against Tennessee.

To illustrate how dramatically Williams rose to become a big-play receiver, that score against the Titans came on the Chargers’ first snap and ignited London’s Wembley Stadium.

A week earlier, he had two touchdown catches — from 45 and 29 yards — in the span of six minutes in a victory at Cleveland.

That’s the sort of explosiveness the Chargers will be trying to find elsewhere when training camp opens in July.

“Should change for the better,” Benjamin said when asked how his role would be different this season. “More plays, more opportunities to showcase my skill set and get on the field and ball out.”

Benjamin caught 68 passes for 966 yards — both career-highs — for the Browns in 2015. He signed with the Chargers as a free agent the next spring.

He has been unable to match that production the last three years and is coming off a season that was repeatedly interrupted by a foot injury. For a player who relies on speed, a bad foot is about as significant as ailments come.

After the initial injury knocked him out for two games in September, Benjamin tried to come back but aggravated the problem early in Week 4 against San Francisco.

“He tried to work through it, and it didn’t quite work out,” coach Anthony Lynn said. “But we didn’t need him, to be honest with you. We had depth last year at that position.

“But his big-play potential, it’s been big for us. He’s going to be on the field more this year. Hopefully, we’ll see more of those big plays. His speed is rare. We’re glad to have him on our roster.”

Despite a mostly quiet 2018, Benjamin did provide the Chargers with a few notable, game-preserving moments.

On a chilly December Sunday night in Pittsburgh, he scored the team’s first touchdown on a 46-yard reception from Philip Rivers. The Chargers had fallen behind 13-0 but eventually won 33-30 on the final play of the game.

Eleven days later, on an even chillier Thursday night in Kansas City, Benjamin caught two passes on the Chargers’ final, game-winning drive in a 29-28 victory. The latter converted a fourth down.

“I felt good,” Benjamin recalled. “I felt confident in myself knowing that my role in the offense had diminished a little. When I got my number called and Phil looked toward me to make a play, I made those plays for the team.”

Derek Watt Jersey

It’s hard to argue with the team’s decision to reunite an uber-successful FB/RB duo from college in the NFL. The thought-process behind it makes sense and, depending on how much value you hold in players being comfortable with their teammates, this makes a lot of sense.

Melvin Gordon has found a lot of success since Derek Watt was drafted by the team in the sixth-round of the 2016 NFL Draft and it’s likely the team will keep the two around until some unforeseen event (i.e., Gordon wanting to get paaaaiiiiiidddd) forces them to change things up.

Watt was drafted by the Chargers in 2016 to potentially provide a synergistic relationship with his college teammate and running back, Melvin Gordon. Though it’s likely a host of other factors, Gordon has averaged over nine rushing touchdowns per season with Watt on the team after posting zero scores in his 2015 rookie season.

Watt is more of a throwback than the majority of fullbacks you see utilized today, if there still are any. Just a couple years ago, the NFL still had John Kuhn, Marcel Reece, and John Connor. Now, it’s tough to find a consistently-used FB outside of the 49ers’ Juszczyk and the Chiefs’ Anthony Sherman.

Even if he doesn’t show up on the stat sheet for weeks at a time, Watt provides a the offense with slight versatility, allowing it to go from 4-wide to the traditional I-formation, and provide some pass-protection for Rivers when the team want’s to maximize security for their aging quarterback. He also is a standout on special teams, which is more important than most want to admit.

A lot of people would argue that Watt’s spot on the roster could be used for a more truly versatile player who could pose more of a threat to defenses than blocking iso for Gordon. He has a 53-yard catch to his name, but that was more-so a mental lapse by the defense than Watt’s superior athletic ability.

Watt is essentially a shoe-in to make the roster each year unless there is a massive shift in the team’s offensive philosophy, which may be coming soon if the team decides not to extend/re-sign Watt prior to the end of 2019.

Fans should expect more of the same from Watt in 2019 as he’ll have a bevy of talented running backs behind him that the team will attempt to utilize throughout the season.

Fun Fact: Derek and his wife welcomed a baby boy into the world on February 17th, 2019 named Logan James Watt.

Jatavis Brown Jersey

Jatavis Brown had a good, but not elite, year in fantasy. He was the #250 ranked fantasy player this season and the #35 LB. Even though he missed a few games, he played enough to make his overall fantasy rank better than what it is based on average fantasy points where he is the #47 LB. He showed improvement from his start of the season to the middle of his season, but then his production dropped off. In his middle 6 games he averaged 6.2 fantasy points which was higher than his start (4.6 FP) and his ending average (5.7 FP). He is still relatively young, so his late season drop-off should not be an indicator of an overall downward trend heading into next season. Based on a relatively low standard deviation, Brown can be considered a consistent fantasy player. He averaged 5.6 FPs, but on any given day his projected ceiling is as high as 10 fantasy points. Jatavis Brown (2019 Season Projection: 61 Solo, 30 Ast, 1.4 Sacks, 0.6 Fumrec, 3.7 PDs) is projected to take a significant step downward in the upcoming fantasy season. His rank based on total projected fantasy points has him as the #48 player at his position.

Jatavis Brown played in 15 games in 2018. He was the #35 ranked fantasy LB based on total fantasy points. He averaged 5.6 FP per game (#47 ranked based on average). He is trending up based on improved per game fantasy ranking from 2017 to 2018. He is relatively stronger (stats bolded below) than weaker in more categories.

Adrian Phillips Jersey

The Los Angeles Chargers are one of the deepest and most entertaining teams to watch in the National Football League. Last season, the Chargers had the joint-best record in the NFL and had some of the most entertaining wins as a result.

The front office has done an excellent job at building in the draft and has given Philip Rivers arguably his most all-around talented core to contend for a Super Bowl. Granted, that 2006 team was insanely talented with LaDainian Tomlinson, but from top to bottom, these Chargers might be the best.

Just because the team is talented though does not mean that every player is properly evaluated. Some players are overrated, some are underrateed, with some examples being more extreme than others.

We saw a thread on Twitter where every fan listed their favorite team’s most overrated and underrated player (which we now cannot find for the life of us) and decided we wanted to get in on the fun.

We saw someone mention that Joey Bosa was the most overrated player on the Los Angeles Chargers. And while we get the logic behind that choice, Bosa is still a menace at defensive end when he is healthy and on the field.

Instead, we are going to go with someone that was actually an All-Pro last season in Adrian Phillips. It might seem completely contradictory to pick an All-Pro as the team’s most overrated player, but hear me out.

Phillips was elite, that is why he was voted as an All-Pro. However, he was elite on special teams, which is where his All-Pro honors are.

Phillips certainly made an impact on the defense and makes the team better, but it is the All-Pro honors that have completely inflated his worth in the eyes of the fans.

Some act as if his All-Pro honors are for his defensive efforts, which is not the case at all. He is a dang good special teams guy, though.

Craig Mager Jersey

The Denver Broncos have waived cornerback Craig Mager, according to a report from KUSA-TV’s Mike Klis. The 26-year-old defensive back did not report to the team’s offseason program this week because of a “personal issue,” Klis tweeted Thursday.

Mager (5-11, 200 pounds) entered the league as a third-round pick out of Texas Tech with the San Diego Chargers in 2015. He dressed for 24 games with the Chargers, earning eight starts in 2016.

During his time in San Diego and Los Angeles, Mager totaled 40 tackles and one interception. He also broke up six passes.

The Chargers placed Mager on injured reserve last September after he suffered a hamstring. Los Angeles then released the cornerback and he signed a two-year deal with Denver. He did not appear in any games with the Broncos last season.

Denver likely signed Mager as a candidate to compete for a roster spot during the 2019 offseason (he signed late in the year, on Dec. 19). After he failed to report this week, though, Mager’s time with the Broncos has come to an end.

Hunter Henry Jersey

Hunter Henry, regarded as one of the best young tight ends in the NFL, missed the entire regular season in 2018 after an unfortunate ACL tear in the preseason. The injury was just one season removed from lacerating his kidney following a hard hit from a Kansas City Chiefs defender. Fans (and Henry) are hoping their stud tight end can dominate on the field in 2019; but is there precedent for a player returning from two season-ending injuries balling out the next year? Yep: Keenan Allen.

Allen lacerated his kidney following an incredible touchdown catch against the Baltimore Ravens in 2015, missing the rest of the regular season after being placed on injured reserve. In 2016, Allen appeared in just one half of one regular season game before being lost to an ACL injury. There were concerns with his health moving forward, so much so that Tom Telesco drafted wide receiver Mike Williams in the first round the next draft. How did Allen respond?

Can Henry follow the same return to form, if not a transition to dominance, with similar injuries? For one, Henry was able to “play” in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, so there is already a level of health suggesting he’d be good to go this season. The tight end will also not be forced to be the No. target for the Chargers, which will give him time to work his way into the offense as Allen and Williams dominate as receivers. Buy low on the tight end; just don’t tell Stephen A. Smith.

Rayshawn Jenkins Jersey

The Chargers will count on many strong draft classes to build a championship-level roster; however, one class in particular must step up to bring the team to a Super Bowl: The 2017 draft class. From the steady contributions of small-role players to the improvement of many starters, this draft class holds the key to the Chargers performing well in the postseason.

From this list, only two are not expected to have a starting role this season: Rayshawn Jenkins and Isaac Rochell. Jenkins may have the smallest snap count number this season, having played just 9.27 percent of the team’s defensive snaps in 2018. Though he may have had a larger role this season, the starting free safety job will all but likely end up with 2019 second-round selection Nasir Adderley.

Rochell, though a projected non-starter behind Joey Bosa, will likely continue to have a significant rotational role. In 2018, the former seventh-round selection played in an about 40 percent of the defensive snaps. Rochell was asked to fill in for Bosa as he recovered from an injury, notching a career-high five sacks throughout the regular season.

Then comes Desmond King, arguably the team’s most impactful all-around player on defense. King will continue his role as both a returner and a corner, where he earned Second and First-Team All-Pro honors last year, respectively. His role on defense, with the additions of Jerry Tillery and Nasir Adderley, will serve to make the Chargers’ defensive unit unbeatable.

So, if Jenkins, Rochell, and King, three impactful players in their own right, are expected to continue their 2018 roles, how is the 2017 class the key to the Super Bowl? Simple (or not): the development of the other four members of the class.

Forrest Lamp Jersey

Life in the NFL has not been ideal for Lamp. Drafted in the second round of 2017, there were high expectations for Lamp as the Chargers’ brass felt he would be an instant impact player for the offensive line. However, Lamp suffered a major set back when he tore his ACL, missing all of his 2017 campaign.

2018 was also not kind to Lamp as he struggled to see the field due to the same ACL injury. Lamp missed all of the team’s activities and did not return to the team until midway through the team’s training camp.

According to Eric D. Williams of ESPN, Lamp was not fully recovered from his ACL injury until midway through the season. This led to Lamp recording just 17 snaps last year, failing to make an impact on the Chargers’ offensive line.

Head coach Anthony Lynn believed that keeping continuity was important for the offensive line as the majority of the group had been together since offseason activities began.

With the 2019 season beginning to take shape, Lamp has appeared to be fully recovered from his ACL injury from 2017 as he was working with the second string offensive line at right guard during the team’s offseason program back in April.

Due to tackle Trey Pipkins being the Chargers’ only addition to the offensive line, one would assume that the Chargers coaching staff still has faith in Lamp to compete for the starting right guard or possibly right tackle position.

Only time will tell, but Chargers fans can only hope that Lamp realizes his potential and is an impact starter in 2019.