There are tons of unanswered questions surrounding the San Diego Chargers. The franchises future in the city of San Diego is in serious jeopardy and the team also has issues within its personnel and coaching staff.
Coach Mike McCoy was retained for the 2016 season and the only major change within the coaching staff was the hiring of Ken Whisenhunt as the new offensive coordinator. Frank Reich was allowed to leave and took a job as the offensive coordinator with the Philadelphia Eagles. It remains to be seen if Whisenhunt can adjust the offense back into being a high-powered system.
The issues with the Chargers last season had much to do with injuries as anything else. With the exception to quarterback and Philip Rivers, each position suffered injuries of some sort at one point in 2015. The offensive line was a mess and rookie Melvin Gordon looked horrible.
A healthy line and an adequate system to which caters to Gordon will go a long way in establishing the run for the Chargers. You cannot make Gordon into a scat back, but if you develop a more power running style for him and the line, then he can truly show you what his value is. At this point it’s anyone guess if Melvin Gordon is a bust or not.
As for personnel issues the team is certainly preparing itself to lose safety and nine-year veteran Eric Weddle. He has made it known that he is not happy and at this point the Chargers have no choice but to let the talented defensive captain walk away from the team.
Antonio Gates, despite his PED suspension from last season will be a hall of famer one day. He will be enshrined in Canton and will represent the Chargers, but should the team let him sign elsewhere? He is an unrestricted free agent and is free to explore options with another team. He is a Chargers legend though.
Ladarius Green like Gates is also an unrestricted free agent and will likely troll around the league looking for work. The Chargers have the cap space to sign both, but Gates will need to take a severe pay cut over the more than seven million dollars he was making per season after signing his last contract.
At the age of 35 Gates is clearly at the end of his career. The 13-year veteran has totaled 10,664 yards in his career and has scored 104 touchdowns. The eight time pro-bowl tight end from Kent State goes down as one of the best stories in team history. The former basketball star has revolutionized the position and paved the way for players of this modern generation.
The Chargers would be foolish to let him walk away at this point. However the franchise has let older players walk away before and being sentimental has not been the Chargers style. The report between Philip Rivers and Gates is unreal and he could be very useful around the goal line and during third down situations. You know that Philip Rivers is all for bringing back his tight end.
Green on the other hand is 25 and ten full years younger than Gates. In his four-year career he has totaled 1,087 yards and caught seven touchdowns. He has had trouble staying healthy in recent years and in all reality has under-performed as a Charger. To his defense he hasn’t had the opportunity to be the sole tight end in the system. Who knows if that will make the difference for this young man.
The fact Green is still coming into his own and has a history with Rivers should be very enticing for the Chargers and for him. Gates and Green should really both be retained and the student/mentor relationship should be left to grow even more. Perhaps retaining Gates on a series of 1-year contracts is the best solution.
The bottom line on retaining Gates will be dollars and cents. He will have to take a pay cut and Green should be paid more in total contract worth. If Gates wants to cement his legacy as a Chargers player, staying with the team is his best option. There is something to familiarity. Going to a new team does not mean immediate success. The same goes for Green, but the Chargers must be receptive in retaining both players.
We shall see what the Chargers decide. Losing Ladarius Green via free agency would be rough, but seeing Antonio Gates in another uniform would be downright tragic! Do the right thing Chargers, please do the right thing.