The Los Angeles Chargers stood pat at Tuesday's NFL trade deadline, bypassing the opportunity to bolster their roster for the second half of the season. The team followed the lead of much of the league which saw few deals consummated before the 1 p.m. PT deadline.
Though the Chargers have largely eschewed major in-season trades under general manager Tom Telesco, their current position made them potential buyers before the deadline. The team exited Week 8 with a 3-5 record following a victory over the Chicago Bears and has played just one divisional game, a 20-13 loss to the Denver Broncos earlier in the month. Accordingly, Los Angeles controls its destiny within the AFC West, a division currently led by the Patrick Mahomes-less Kansas City Chiefs.
Given the Chargers' surplus of running backs and weaknesses elsewhere on the roster, some believed they could trade Pro Bowl rusher Melvin Gordon for a player at another position. Gordon held out into the regular season in pursuit of a new contract, but the team declined to meet his compensation demands. With the veteran back set to hit the open market this offseason and Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson performing at a high level in his absence, Los Angeles had reason to consider trading Gordon now rather than waiting for a potential compensatory draft pick in 2021.
But tf that plan was ever on the table, head coach Anthony Lynn's decision to fire offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt Monday and promote quarterbacks coach Shane Steichen to offensive play-caller likely removed the possibility. Whisenhunt's offense struggled to run the ball in October, topping out at 39 rushing yards in a Week 7 loss to the Tennessee Titans. Lynn has yet to reveal his motivation for the change, but the lack of production on the ground likely contributed to a significant degree. Given his affinity for Gordon, whom Lynn declared the team's starter immediately upon his return from the holdout, the changes to the coaching staff almost certainly revolve around squeezing more out of the Pro Bowl back.
With the trade deadline now in the rearview mirror, the Chargers' biggest midseason addition will come in the form of All-Pro safety Derwin James' expected return later this year. James fractured the fifth metatarsal in his foot during training camp and landed on injured reserve soon after final cuts in September. James became eligible to come off IR following Week 8, but he could require more time before returning to practice. Though he didn't participate, James spent time on the practice field last week without a walking boot, a sign that his foot has made progress.
-- Jason B. Hirschhorn is an award-winning sports journalist and Pro Football Writers of America member. Follow him on Twitter: @by_JBH