|Signing K Nick Novak is one of the key priorities for whoever becomes the Chargers' new GM. (US Presswire)|
The Chargers' new general manager will have a lot on his plate. The most pressing concern will be to shore up the offensive line that allowed QB Philip Rivers to be sacked 49 times and hit on 70 other occasions in 2012.
The new GM will also have to choose which of 25 free agents to re-sign. No Charger made the Pro Bowl this season, but that doesn't mean the roster was devoid of talent. Paying too much to retain current players will limit resources in free agency. Allowing too many to walk will create holes that did not previously exist.
Unrestricted free agents (19): CB Chris Carr, CB Antoine Cason, CB Quentin Jammer, DE Vaughn Martin, DT Aubrayo Franklin, G Tyronne Green, G Rex Hadnot, G Louis Vasquez, ILB Gary Guyton, ILB Demorrio Williams, K Nick Novak, OLB Antwan Barnes , OLB Shaun Phillips, RB Jackie Battle, RB Ronnie Brown, SS Corey Lynch, T Reggie Wells, TE Dante Rosario and WR Micheal Spurlock.
Restricted free agents (5): G Brandyn Dombrowski, LS Mike Windt, RB Curtis Brinkley, WR Seyi Ajirotutu and WR Danario Alexander.
Exclusive Rights free agent (1): WR Richard Goodman.
Free agents who must be signed:
- K Nick Novak -- Field goal kickers are crucial in a league full of parody and close games. Novak made 18 of 20 (90.0 percent) field goals this season. His two misses were from 55 and 54 yards. Novak has made 45 of 53 (83.33) field goals since 2011 for San Diego. Nate Kaeding (groin) left the Chargers this past season having made 180 of 207 regular season attempts and earned the status as the NFLs most-accurate kicker of all-time (.870).
- RG Louis Vasquez -- The O-line already needs a lot of help, but Vasquez wasn't the problem. He started all 16 games and played well.
- WR Danario Alexander -- Alexander was signed on Oct. 22nd and played in just 10 games. He was the team's second leading receiver with 37 receptions for 658 yards. Alexander also had seven TDs to tie TE Antonio Gates for the team lead.
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Positions needing improvement:
- OT -- LT Jared Gaither was a complete disappointment and his desire to play was highly questioned as he fought through back and groin injuries. LT Michael Harris (undrafted, UCLA) tried hard, but wasn't ready. RT Jeromey Clary was considered the weak link going into the season and at times proved to be.
- RB -- Fragile is a horrible word to describe a player, but RB Ryan Mathews' career has been riddled with injuries. He had two broken clavicles and only one TD in 2012. Mathews will probably get one more chance next season, but it would not be surprising if the next GM uses a mid-round pick to challenge Mathews for the job.
- SS -- The Chargers have had a revolving door at SS. Free agent additions have not been able to stay healthy. Bob Sanders (knee) lasted all of two games in 2011. This season, Atari Bigby was placed on the reserved-injured list after he suffered a groin injury in week 12. Corey Lynch did a good job in place of Bigby, but is more suited for special teams and as a utility backup than an every-game starter. Lynch is also a free agent.