Chargers look to address several holes on the roster

The Chargers still have some roster holes they need to fill before the team opens training camp.

COSTA MESA, Calif. — The Chargers added two players via free agency while drafting seven players. That doesn’t mean their roster is complete.

They still have some holes on the roster. Head coach Brandon Staley was asked how comfortable he felt with the roster and if he thinks they need to add players.

“There’s a lot of time between now and the first game,” Staley said. “There’s a window now; there will be a window during training camp. We’ll look at both of those windows before the season starts to take advantage of our team because there is just so much that is going to happen. We’re excited to coach this group.”

Here are three positions they need to address:

Safety spot opposite Derwin James

Why call it “other safety spot?” Because Derwin James occupies one of the spots and tends to move around a lot, there really isn’t a position. Now that Nasir Adderley retired, there is a spot open.

Brandon Staley could go with Aloha Gilman, who has been a solid reserve for the team. He may not be the starter that Staley envisioned.

The team also drafted J.T. Woods last year in the third round. He is tall and long but dealt with numerous injuries his rookie year, limiting him to only playing in two games.

He could be the unknown heading into this season, especially because he hasn’t played. Coming out of Baylor, he impressed because of his ball-hawking skills; he still needs work on tackling, but he could be that defensive game-changer.

If Staley wants to look outside of the team, there is a familiar name in John Johnson III. He played for Staley in 2020 with the Rams and had a career year, so much so the Browns gave him a huge contract.

Johnson could be a significant impact player for the Charger’s defense, and his familiarity with the system could mean James can play all his usual spots as he has in the past. This move feels like a post-June 1st signing if it happens. 

Back up running back

This position has some complications because running back Austin Ekeler has carried the load the last two seasons and hasn’t received help. No other backs have stepped up.

They have some options on the team, but the team had drafted a running back in each of the last three drafts besides 2023. Joshua Kelley has had some flashes but has been injured, and Larry Rountree hasn’t produced.

The only player the team hasn’t seen much play time was the fourth-round pick from 2022, Isaiah Spiller. He has the chance to be the second back, mainly because offensive coordinator Kellen Moore in Dallas had the two-back system with Ezekiel Elliot and Tony Pollard.

It will be challenging for the Chargers to trade Ekeler, especially because he will be demanding a lot of money, so he should be back with the squad. 

The team also has some undrafted guys, Elijah Dotson and Tyler Hoosman, who might be able to challenge.

Don’t expect the Chargers to go after Dalvin Cook if he becomes available or make any trades for a back. Elliott is a free agent, but some NFL execs believe he has lost a step and might be asking for too much money, so he probably isn’t an option if he has familiarity with Moore.

The team needs to establish a second back because running the football will be essential this season, especially with the offensive line they have built. Staley and Co. don’t want Herbert throwing the football 50 times a game, so they need a second back.

Pass rush help

The Chargers have Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack as their primary pass rushers behind them. It is a question mark.

They drafted Tuli Tuipuulotu from USC and have designated him as a pass rusher, but they won’t put that much on the rookie’s plate. Also, third-year edge rusher Chris Rump has yet to make much of an impact on defense.

Staley and Co. need to bring in more pass rush help because, as they witnessed last season, when Bosa went down, it was tough to generate a pass rush with only Mack. At the back end of the season, Kyle Van Noy was able to sack the opposing quarterback in six straight games.

They need to bring in more pass-rushing help, especially with some quarterbacks they will face this season. 

There are some options with Van Noy still being a free agent. Also, Leonard Floyd, who played for Staley with the Rams, had a career year under him in 2020. 

The team needs more help pass rushing and can’t rely on Bosa and Mack.