LOS ANGELES -- At least on paper, the Los Angeles Chargers enter the quiet part of the offseason with one of the NFL's most loaded secondaries. Already armed with Pro Bowlers Derwin James, Casey Hayward, and Desmond King, the team added star slot corner Chris Harris Jr. through free agency as well as developmental safety Alohi Gilman in the 2020 NFL Draft. In a league that increasingly focuses on the passing game, those investments make plenty of sense.
Still, with such a crowded secondary, the coaching staff will have to make extra efforts to ensure the most talented players see sufficient time on the field. That could mean taking a do-it-all defender like James and situationally moving him to other parts of the defense.
For his part, James likes the idea of leaning more heavily into his versatility.
"Man, I surely hope so," James said of moving around the defense during a conference call with reporters. "We haven't really gone over that yet, but I surely hope so. To be able to move around, just adding Chris, it lets me be more free."
In just two years, James has established himself as a position-less chess piece. Last December during his first game back from a foot injury, he played snaps as a safety, slot corner, linebacker, and even as a de facto pass rusher off the edge. Few in the NFL can replicate such a wide range of skills, and James feels comfortable doing all of it.
"Yeah, I'm comfortable, man," James said. "I'm comfortable at linebacker, comfortable in the slot. I'm comfortable, man, everywhere on that field. It really don't matter to me."
Like most teams, the Chargers spend the majority of their defensive snaps in nickel, dime, or sub packages to better defend the pass. If they decide to play James near the line of scrimmage more frequently in 2020, that could open up space behind him for the multiple talented defensive backs that might not otherwise see extensive playing time without sacrificing elsewhere.
-- Jason B. Hirschhorn is an award-winning sports journalist and Pro Football Writers of America member. Follow him on Twitter: @by_JBH