In assessing the Chargers' RB depth chart, Gilbert Manzano of the Southern California News Group writes: "[Justin] Jackson is probably the most talented running back on the team not named Ekeler, but he struggles to stay on the field because of injuries. If he's healthy during training camp, expect Jackson to win over the new coaching staff and earn the No. 2 job." Durability has certainly been a big issue for Jackson, who played in just 16 total games over the past 2 seasons. But we saw Joshua Kelley disappoint and lose playing time as his rookie season went on. Larry Rountree is the only player among the 3 to be drafted by the current regime, but he was just a 6th-round selection. This looks like an open competition for what's expected to be 2 roster spots. Jackson has played well when on the field and brings intriguing upside as an end-of-draft lottery ticket. This should be a particularly good situation in which to be the #2 back, with Ekeler seeming unlikely to get true workhorse-level rushing work.
New Chargers OC Joe Lombardi wasn't shy when asked about WR Mike Williams' outlook in his offense. “I see a big role for him," Lombardi said. "If I were a betting man, I’d bet on nice numbers coming from him on the stat sheet, that’s for sure.” Lombardi spent 12 seasons -- including the last 5 -- working under Sean Payton in New Orleans. Williams will be playing the same 'X' receiver spot for the Chargers that Michael Thomas plays for the Saints. “As much as this offense will resemble New Orleans, he plays the ‘X’ and the ball has always kind of found the ‘X’ receiver in this offense,” Lombardi explained. “I think that there will be some natural production that comes his way because of the nature of the offense.” Don't expect anything close to Thomas-level production from Williams this season. But he looks like a nice value at his current WR50 ADP in FFPC best balls.
The Chargers grabbed Georgia TE Tre McKitty in the 3rd round of the 2021 NFL Draft. The 6'4, 246-pounder caught 50 balls across 3 seasons at Florida State before transferring to Georgia last year and totaling just 6 grabs. McKitty tested as an above-average athlete at his Pro Day, including a 4.71-second 40 time. He joins Jared Cook and cult hero Donald Parham in the Chargers' TE room.
The Chargers nabbed Tennessee WR Josh Palmer with the 77th pick of the 2021 NFL Draft. The 6’1, 210-pounder clocked a decent 4.51-second 40 time at his Pro Day but disappointed with a 34-inch vertical. That was a surprise because Palmer shows plenty of contested-catch ability on tape. He also has some of the stickiest hands in this year’s WR class, with only 4 drops on 164 career targets (2.4% drop rate). Palmer never reached even 500 receiving yards in any of his 4 college seasons, though. And even as a senior last year, he accounted for a modest 23% of Tennessee’s receiving yardage. Palmer will compete with Tyron Johnson and Jalen Guyton for snaps behind Keenan Allen and Mike Williams this year. Williams is set to become a free agent next offseason, though, so there could be opportunity for Palmer.
The Chargers have agreed to a 1-year deal with TE Jared Cook, worth up to $6 million, according to multiple reports. Cook, of course, spent the past 2 years in New Orleans, where his targets dipped but his efficiency spiked. Cook posted 2 of his 3 best yards-per-catch rates with the Saints and scored on 20% of his catches. He faces plenty of opportunity with the Chargers, who allowed TE Hunter Henry to walk in free agency. Cook should face some competition from 23-year-old Donald Parham, but his arrival should also knock Parham's best-ball ADP down from its recent rise. Cook is heading into his age-34 season, so some decline in his performance is certainly possible.
The Chargers are retaining K Mike Badgley with a 1-year deal, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. Badgley ranked 10th in the league in FG attempts but tied for just 17th in FGs converted. His 72.7% success rate marked a 2nd straight year of decline in that category. The new contract makes Badgley worth selecting in FFPC best-ball drafts, but don't consider him a sure bet to last the season.
The Saints released TEs Jared Cook and Josh Hill. The Cook move was just a formality, with his contract set to expire later this month anyway. He gets a head start now on finding his next employer. The soon-to-be 34-year-old remained effective last season, posting a 37-504-7 line on 60 targets. Hill saw just 10 targets last year, so his departure doesn't move the needle. But the moves in tandem open the door for 2020 3rd-rounder Adam Trautman to take over as New Orleans' starter. He's a 2021 breakout candidate.
Joe Lombardi has been named Chargers OC. The 49-year-old and grandson of Vince Lombardi has had 2 stints with the Saints under Sean Payton, including the past 5 seasons as QB coach. In between, Lombardi spent 2 seasons as Lions OC in 2014 and 2015. Those teams both ranked in the bottom half of the league in total yards and points. The running games were anemic, headed by Ameer Abdullah, Joique Bell and Reggie Bush. But QB Matthew Stafford topped 4,200 yards both years with 54 total TDs. This seems like a solid hire for QB Justin Herbert and the Chargers passing game.
The Chargers have named Brandon Staley their new HC. The 38-year-old has been a fast riser, going from a LBs coach in Chicago and Denver to Rams defensive coordinator to Chargers HC in just 5 years. Staley's 2020 Rams defense was better than Wade Phillips' 2019 unit in points allowed, total yards allowed, yards per play allowed and Football Outsiders' DVOA. This at least looks like a good hire for the Chargers defense. We'll see who joins Staley to run the offense.
The Chargers have fired HC Anthony Lynn. He cost his team multiple chances to win this season with poor in-game management. Lynn finishes his 4-year run with the Chargers with a 33-31 record but went just 12-20 over the past 2 seasons. Whoever takes over this team will be working with a strong core in QB Justin Herbert, RB Austin Ekeler and WR Keenan Allen -- plus a talented defense.
Chargers RB Austin Ekeler sustained a concussion near the end of the 1st half of Sunday's game against the Chiefs. This shouldn't impact Ekeler's offseason, but it's worth filing away in case he suffers another head injury.
The Chargers have ruled DE Joey Bosa (concussion), S Rayshawn Jenkins (ankle) and CB Casey Hayward (hamstring) out for Sunday's game against the Chiefs. S Jahleel Addae -- Jenkins' replacement -- is also questionable for the game after missing practice all week. We'll check his status when inactives come out Sunday.
Chargers WR Keenan Allen has been placed on the COVID list. He was already expected to miss Sunday's finale with his hamstring injury, but now he's definitely out for that one. Allen finishes the 2020 campaign with a 100-992-8 line. It snaps his 3-year streak of 1,100+ yards but marks his 3rd 100+ catch season among the last 4. Mike Williams, Jalen Guyton and Tyron Johnson will close out the season as the Chargers' top 3 WRs.
Chargers HC Anthony Lynn says there's a "good chance" DE Joey Bosa (concussion) misses Sunday's game in Kansas City, according to The Orange County Register. With no Bosa last week, fellow starter Melvin Ingram already on IR and backup Uchenna Nwosu landing on IR, the Chargers started Isaac Rochell and Jerry Tillery on the edges against Denver. Looks like they'll be doing the same in Week 17 against the Chiefs' JV team. There's upside to each with K.C.'s OTs potentially sitting out.
Chargers WR Keenan Allen (hamstring) is not expected to play vs. the Chiefs this weekend, according to The Athletic's Daniel Popper. Allen has been battling this hamstring for a few weeks and has no reason to rush back for a meaningless finale. Mike Williams, Jalen Guyton and Tyron Johnson will close out the season as the Chargers' top 3 WRs.
Chargers WR Keenan Allen (hamstring) is inactive for today’s game against the Broncos. That leaves Mike Williams, Tyron Johnson and Jalen Guyton as QB Justin Herbert’s top 3 WRs today. L.A. is also without TE Hunter Henry.
Chargers WR Keenan Allen (hamstring) remains a game-time decision for today's tilt with the Broncos, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Rapoport adds that Allen is in a "similar situation" to last week, when he ended up playing just 36% of the offensive snaps and drawing 3 targets. He's a risky Week 16 fantasy play at seemingly far less than 100%.
Update: ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Allen is not expected to play today. We'll continue to look for updates on the situation, but we won't get the Chargers' inactives until around 2:30 pm ET.
The Chargers have ruled DE Joey Bosa (shin, concussion) out for Sunday's game against the Broncos. With Melvin Ingram already on IR and Uchenna Nwosu also ruled out, the Chargers will miss their top 3 DEs. That can only help Denver's matchup.