COSTA MESA – The Chargers selected two cornerbacks in the sixth and seventh-round of the NFL Draft, but that didn’t divert them from continuing to uplift the position by returning back into the free agency pool. Three days after the draft, the Chargers came to an agreement with cornerback Bryce Callahan on a one-year deal.
Callahan, 30, said Monday at his first press conference since joining the team at the beginning of May, that he was contacted by Staley about two weeks into free agency, reaching out to gauge potential interest in joining the Chargers.
However, as free agent signings continued to develop throughout the offseason, Callahan was among the players having to play the waiting game.
“It’s rough," Callahan said in regards to what it’s like going through the waiting process of free agency. "You see all of your friends getting signed and all of that, but my agent, and everybody close to me, just said to be patient, it will happen, so that’s what I was doing.”
But now, in finding his new home in Los Angeles, Callahan is confident he'll fit right in rather smoothly. He's entering his eighth year in the NFL – all of which have been in this specific scheme.
Callahan began his NFL career in Chicago playing in Vic Fangio's defense, the mentor of Staley as he rose up the coaching ranks. Staley was on staff as the Bears' outside linebackers coach for two of Callahan's seasons in Chicago and for one of his season's in Denver, crossing paths regularly.
“We’ve always clicked," Callahan said of Staley. "I was with him for a little bit in Chicago. We’ve always had a great relationship, so when he called me, I already kind of knew what was up.”
One of the common theme's of the Chargers' offseason has been adding players who've previously played in Staley's defensive system. The likes of Khalil Mack, Sebastian Joseph-Day and Troy Reeder each possess experience in working with Staley during past stops throughout their NFL careers. Calllahan is the latest addition that fits the same script of adding to the defense with players who are familiar with the language and concepts that Staley and his coaching staff are preaching to their players.
While accumulating players with familiarity to the scheme is one advantage, being able to play multiple positions within the secondary is another notable benefit, and Callahan believes he's capable of providing that for the Chargers.
“I feel comfortable playing either inside or outside," Callahan said. "Like I said, I’ve played in this scheme — this is going to be my eighth year, so I know it pretty well. I feel like I’m giving experience to either inside or outside. I feel pretty comfortable playing both.”
Callahan has been an efficient player for the Broncos in recent years. His issues don't stem from productivity, but rather, he's dealt with injuries in each of his last three seasons in Denver.
Callahan said Monday that he sees the season ahead as a new chapter. His health and mentality are in a good place right now and the Chargers' newcomer has indicated he's eager to show his worth.
“I definitely want to prove [it] — even for my guy Staley, just giving me the opportunity to get back out there," Callahan said. "Injuries suck. I wish that there was a special way just to stay away from them. No one wants to be hurt. No one wants to be on the sidelines watching. Staying up on my strength, continuing my lifting, a good diet — giving myself the best possibility to stay out there on the field.”
Callahan dealt with foot complications in 2019 and 2020. Most recently, he faced a knee injury last season, landing him on injured reserve which led to a five-game absence.
Assuming better health will prevail, and Callahan being a quick study given his background in this defense, he's optimistic he''ll be able to offer experience and versatility alongside J.C. Jackson, Asante Samuel Jr., Michael Davis and others in the Chargers' cornerback department.
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Nick Cothrel is the publisher of Charger Report. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickCothrel for more Chargers coverage.