Chargers general manager Tom Telesco had what would have been his NFL Combine press conference, but because they canceled the event in Indianapolis, he had it virtually. Telesco spoke on numerous topics, from what he has noticed working with new head coach Brandon Staley to the state of the team.
The Topic of Hunter Henry
This has been a topic for the second offseason in a row. Henry was franchised tagged last season. He was able to make 60 catches for 613 yards and scored four touchdowns while playing in 14 games.
So, what is Telesco's plan of attack for Henry?
"Well, he falls under the category of things we've done right," Telesco said. "You draft a player, he develops and turns into a really high-level tight end for us and a big part of this football team. Our philosophy has been draft, develop, and re-sign. Now can you do that with every single player? You can't, not in a salary-cap era, and certainly not in an era where we are right now where it's lowered.”
"But doesn't change how we feel about him, and we know what he means to the football team. And we'll just kind of see where our options are."
Henry is probably going to command anywhere from $10-$13 million. Numerous teams will be on the hunt for a tight end, so if Henry isn't re-signed or tagged by March 17th, expect multiple teams to compete with the Chargers for Henry's services.
What is the plan with Mike Williams?
The Chargers receiver is entering his fifth-year option and will be paid around $15 million. Williams has turned into one of the best jump-ball receivers in the NFL. Last season it took him and Justin Herbert a little bit of time to develop a relationship.
The Chargers can do three things; they can sign him to a long-term deal, cut him, or let him play out on the option.
"We're going to keep all options open," said Telesco. "I think he's a really, really high-level football player. The opportunities that he gets, he makes big plays for us."
Williams does make a lot of plays for the Chargers, especially in crucial moments. It will be interesting to see what Telesco and Co. do with him.
"We need to add talent," said Telesco. "Amongst the whole football team, we're trying to build a balanced football team. I don't know if we're, you know, just a better offensive line away from winning a championship. So, we're trying to build a whole football team."
Secondary and area of need?
Telesco was asked on Thursday, "How do you feel about what you have at corner right now on the roster?"
He answered, "I feel okay."
Then he went on, "We got Michael Davis as a free agent. So, we'll see where that goes, but everybody else is there."
If you aren't very fluent in Tom Telesco 101, that means he is evaluating every position this offseason. He understands that Tyreek Hill, Jerry Jeudy, and Henry Ruggs III are in his division. Expect him to address cornerback, whether in free agency or the draft.
Will they, or won't they?
The Chargers are in a unique situation because they have around $24 million to spend, which is better than a lot of teams in the NFL. They could increase it if they do what I explained in this article.
Would they consider cutting players?
"I try and keep as many options open as possible," said Telesco. "But yeah, we're in a better situation than most, which is good to know gives us some flexibility. But it's not like we have so much cap space that we can be overly aggressive in free agency."
How is the rest of the league looking?
ESPN NFL Reporter Dianna Russini reported that she was texting with an NFL head coach and that they told her, "It's going to be a massacre next week all around the league." Meaning that there will be a lot of players cut because of the lower cap space and teams not being able to fit those players under their cap.
"That would be my guess would be more than prior seasons, just because no one had anticipated that it kept going down to where it is now," explained Telesco. "So that would be my anticipation."
This could work in the Chargers favor, especially when you see a player like right guard Gabe Jackson released by the Las Vegas Raiders. It could quite possibly be a lot of bargains in free agency.
What do they need to fix?
On offense, Telesco wasn't happy with the way they ran the ball, so that could mean building the offensive line, or maybe he wasn't happy with the running back position. He also had another area. "Our red zone and goal to go offense," said Telesco. "We didn't score enough points, which is a big issue in close games. Some of the low redzone was because our run game efficiency wasn't very good." On the defensive side, it felt the defense really underperformed at times. They would have very good first halves like against the Bucs, Saints, and Broncos, then come out in the second half and blow the lead. "Pressure and takeaways got to get a lot better there," said Telesco about the defense. "Our two-minute defense really didn't play to where it needs to be." There is no need to go into depth about what special teams did because everyone knows and remembers how abysmal they were last season. The only positive they had was they didn't allow a kickoff return for a touchdown. "Field position on special teams has to improve," said Telesco.
There it is. Telesco spoke to the media for about 40 minutes and gave some interesting tidbits. Free agency starts soon, so it will be interesting to see how aggressive they act during it.
"So those are the areas we got to get better at," said Telesco. "That's how we look at it more so than individual players."