Good morning. Ricky Henne of reports Malcom Floyd will participate in the San Diego Chargers' offseason program, which begins on Monday.

The receiver still has hurdles to clear as he attempts to return from a serious neck injury that cut short his 2013 season. Floyd, 32, said he's been cleared to run and workout, but has not been cleared for all football activities.

"I'll definitely be there for that," Floyd said about San Diego's offseason program. "I'm excited to be back and just be around my teammates again. You don't realize how much you take for granted until you go through something like I did, so it feels good to be back. I know I'm in good hands with [head athletic trainer] James Collins and his staff. I'm listening to their advice and to my body, and I feel like I'm in a good position right now. I feel really good running and everything."

Darren Smith of The Mighty 1090 talks with NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock in this audio link. Mayock said cornerback and pass rush are San Diego's top draft needs.

Bucky Brooks of the NFL Network has the Chargers selecting Virginia Tech cornerback Kyle Fuller in the first round and Notre Dame defensive tackle Louis Nix III in the second round in his two-round mock draft.

Michael Gehlken of U-T San diego reports on some draft prospects that will participate in the Chargers' local pro day on Wednesday.

Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post reports Montana linebacker Brock Coyle will visit the Chargers on Wednesday.

ESPN's Paul Lukas of Uni Watch has an interesting report on Riddell's new football helmet SpeedFlex. The helmet has a cutout at the crown of the helmet, creating a flexible panel designed to disperse impact.

Chris Burke of Sports Illustrated ranks his top 10 cornerbacks in this year's draft. Michigan State's Darqueze Dennard tops the list.

NFL Nation Buzz: San Diego Chargers

April, 16, 2014
Apr 16
ESPN Chargers reporter Eric D. Williams talks about the team's running back and offensive line prospects.
In this series we take a look at 12 players for the San Diego Chargers who are 25 or younger and who could be considered foundational or impact players.

Player: ILB Donald Butler
Age: 25

The skinny: A third-round selection by the Chargers in the 2010 draft, Butler signed a seven-year, $51.8 million deal as the team's top priority this offseason. San Diego's defensive co-captain finished second on the team with 84 tackles, four pass breakups, an interception and half a sack during the regular season. Butler missed time for a second straight season, sitting out four games with a groin injury.

Reason for optimism: At 6-1 and 242 pounds, Butler is fast (4.62-second, 40-yard time at his pro day) and strong (35 reps on the bench press at 225 pounds). The University of Washington product also has a nose for the football and has the potential to develop into the long-term leader for defensive coordinator John Pagano's unit. But Butler has to perform in 2014 and beyond as he did in the postseason, when he led the Chargers in tackles with 18 and also forced a fumble.

Reason for concern: Can Butler finally stay healthy and develop into a playmaker on defense? After he signed the long-term deal, Butler said as much, stating that improving his durability was a priority during the offseason. Butler missed 24 of a possible 64 games in his four-year career with the Chargers, including four games each in the 2012 and 2013 seasons because of a similar groin injury. Butler has not always played at a high level week in, week out. He needs to perform as he did during the 2013 playoffs on a more consistent basis.
Some NFL draft observers believe the Houston Texans will pass on a quarterback at the top of the draft as the No. 1 overall selection because of the lukewarm overall talent of this year’s quarterback prospects.

Under that premise, ESPN NFL insider Mike Sando examined in this Insider piece which current NFL quarterbacks would be worth a No. 1 overall draft pick based strictly on current playing ability, without regard for age or salary.

Sando polled former NFL general manager Bill Pollian, former NFL scout Matt Williamson and a current NFL general manager. The trio found consensus on seven quarterbacks -- Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Andrew Luck, Ben Roethlisberger and Russell Wilson.

Polian and Williamson included San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers on their list of current quarterbacks worth trading for a No. 1 overall pick, but the anonymous NFL GM did not include Rivers on his list.

So Rivers’ name was included on a list of four quarterbacks deemed close, but not quite worth trading for a No. 1 overall pick. Others on that list were Atlanta’s Matt Ryan, Carolina’s Cam Newton and Eli Manning of the New York Giants.

Here’s what Sando had to say about Rivers:

“Rivers has fallen short of the Super Bowl despite reaching the playoffs with teams that won 14, 13, 11, nine and eight games during the regular season. He ranks last out of 14 quarterbacks in postseason Total QBR since 2006 (minimum five games). For what it's worth, Roethlisberger ranks 13th on that list.”

In my opinion, if we are taking age into account, Rivers is worth a No. 1 overall pick, along with Brees, Rodgers, Luck, Wilson, Newton, Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco. I believe Manning and Brady are both past their prime, and would not include them on the list.
According to a salary survey performed by ESPN The Magazine and Sportingintellegience Global, the San Diego Chargers ranked No. 148 among all pro teams in the world in average salary paid out per player.

Per the report, the Chargers paid an average salary of $1,987,919 in 2013. The team had a total wage bill of $105,359,681. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Philip Rivers was San Diego’s highest-paid player in 2013, making $12 million in total compensation.

Manchester City of the English Premier League topped the survey, paying its players an average salary of $8,109,912, followed by the New York Yankees ($8,031,948), the Los Angeles Dodgers ($7,778,336) Real Madrid ($7,586,438) and Barcelona ($7,446,562).

According to the survey, the NBA is the highest-paying league in the world, as roughly $2 billion was paid to 441 players, for an average salary of $4,522,283 per player. The 2013-14 Brooklyn Nets, with Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov’s desire to build a contending team right now, have the highest average payroll at $6.8 million per player, up from $5.5 million last season.

The Minnesota Vikings spent the most per player in the NFL ($2,315,053), followed by the Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks ($2,303,317).

Check out the methodology for the survey here.
Good morning. Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap provides some overall thoughts on how the San Diego Chargers handled free agency this offseason.

Fitzgerald acknowledges that Chargers general manager Tom Telesco’s hands were tied because he inherited a team that is tight against the salary cap. However, like others, Fitzgerald was not a fan of San Diego signing running back Donald Brown in free agency.

He believes not releasing or re-working the contract of offensive guard Jeromey Clary is a mistake. Clary is set to make $4.55 million in 2014. Fitzgerald also writes the $3.5 million the Chargers are set to pay receiver Eddie Royal could be better spent elsewhere.

Fitzgerald gave credit to San Diego for re-signing foundational players like Donald Butler, Chad Rinehart and Darrell Stuckey, but still handed the Chargers a C-minus grade overall for the team’s efforts in free agency. Fitzgerald:
The Chargers were a playoff team last season which makes free agency very difficult for a team with limited resources to improve. While I disliked the signing of Brown and keeping Royal, I can’t get on their case too badly since there was little the team could do this year.

“One of the smart things that I think they have done is resisting the temptation to possibly rework the contracts of Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates, and Eric Weddle for cap relief. It will take another year before the new regime can really put a stamp on the team and in order to maintain that ability they need to keep the veterans on their current deals and take short term band aid contracts for the other positions.
Ricky Henne of profiles Virginia offensive tackle Morgan Moses.

Kyle Posey of Bolts from the Blue debates if the Chargers should take a chance on productive but injury-prone Florida defensive tackle Dominique Easley.

Some former NFL scouts and draft analysts talk about the main characteristics teams are looking for in a top cornerback in this video link. It’s worth a look.

ESPN Rams beat reporter Nick Wagoner writes the team announced anyone who guesses the team’s 2014 schedule 100 percent correctly will receive a $100,000 prize.

Longtime NFL scout and current draft analyst Gil Brandt has Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel at the top of his big board.
According to the NFL's daily transaction report, the San Diego Chargers waived middle linebacker Terrell Manning.

At 6-foot-2 and 237 pounds, Manning was originally selected in the fifth-round by the Green Bay Packers in the 2012 draft. Manning was claimed off of waivers after final cuts in September 2013. Manning was later released and added to San Diego's practice squad after Week 3.

Manning was active for one game for the Chargers in 2013. With the North Carolina State product no longer with San Diego, the Chargers have six inside linebackers on the 90-man roster -- Donald Butler, Manti Te'o, Kavell Conner, Reggie Walker, Andrew Gachkar and Jonas Mouton.
After finishing eight quarters away from the Super Bowl last season, can the San Diego Chargers reach the NFL title game this season with an upgrade at just one important position?

In this ESPN Insider piece, Neil Hornsby of Pro Football Focus writes that that Chargers are one of five NFL teams that are one glaring need away from elevating themselves to the point of competing for a Super Bowl appearance.

Hornsby says that position for the Chargers is edge rusher.

Hornsby: “When Dwight Freeney went down in Week 4 of this past season, it laid in clear relief an issue that the Chargers have had since Shawne Merriman was in his prime: an inability to get pressure from their outside linebackers. When your top three rushers in terms of total pressure are two 5-technique defensive ends and a linebacker, Reggie Walker, who played the first 11 games of 2013 on the inside, you know you have problems.”

Hornsby goes on to say with Melvin Ingram and Larry English not performing up to their first-round draft selection, San Diego should consider drafting a pass-rusher or two early in May's draft.

Hornsby’s assertion that edge rusher is a deficiency on San Diego’s defense has merit. You can look to Seattle signing edge rushers Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril in free agency last year as a blueprint for how much creating an effective pass rush benefits an entire defense.

But I still believe the Chargers have a greater need at cornerback, and should fix that area first before bringing in more edge rushers. The Chargers already have eight players currently under contract for the upcoming season that can rush the passer off the edge.
Good morning. In this ESPN Insider piece Insider, ESPN senior draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. examines the worst-case scenarios of where some of the top prospects on both sides of the ball could fall in the upcoming NFL draft.

And for Notre Dame defensive tackle Louis Nix, the draft floor was the second round to the San Diego Chargers at No. 57. Kiper writes because of the limited need for run-stuffing nose tackles, Nix could tumble down the draft board.

Kiper: “Nix could drop some from where I had him ranked going back to the season, and he could fall because he’s not a player any team can draft. He’s more of a zero- or 1-technique, and you look for a fit as much as value.”

Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post reports that Middle Tennessee State defensive tackle Jimmy Staten visited the Chargers.

Bucky Brooks of the NFL Draft gives the Chargers cornerback Joe Haden at No. 12 instead of running back Ryan Mathews in his 2010 draft do over.

Peter King of Sports Illustrated talks with draft guru Gil Brandt, who says six receivers could go in the first round. It could be hard for San Diego not to bite on a receiver in the first round and stay on the defensive side of the ball, where the team needs more help.

Nathan Jahnke of Pro Football Focus takes a closer look at how many rushers a team sent during the 2013 season. According to Jahnke, the Chargers brought four rushers 60.3 percent of the time, and rushed five players 25.9 percent of the time.

Ricky Henne of profiles Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde.
In this series we take a look at 12 players for the San Diego Chargers who are 25 or younger and who could be considered foundational or impact players.

Player: OLB Melvin Ingram
Age: 24

The skinny: Selected No. 18 overall in the 2012 draft by the Chargers, Ingram made a miraculous comeback from surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee last May. After a six-and-half month rehabilitation, Ingram returned to play in four regular season contests and the postseason last year. And although he totaled just eight tackles, a sack and a forced fumble during the regular season, Ingram’s impact can’t be measured by statistics alone. The South Carolina product brought an added boost to practice sessions, along with an infectious energy and enthusiasm that rubbed off on the rest of the defense during games.

Reason for optimism: With another offseason of rehabilitation, rest and recovery, Ingram will be closer to 100 percent healthy for the upcoming season. And the return of a healthy Dwight Freeney should make things easier for Ingram in terms of getting after the passer. Ingram and Freeney will pair to create one of the better pass-rush duos in the NFL in 2014.

Reason for concern: Complacency. ESPN NFL Insider Matt Williamson praised Ingram’s explosiveness and versatility. But like fellow teammate Eric Weddle says, Ingram can’t believe the hype. He still has just two sacks in 20 NFL games, so there’s ample room for improvement. Ingram has to turn his enormous potential into consistent performance at a high level. And having two healthy knees will go a long way in helping Ingram accomplish that feat.
Good morning. Darren Smith of The Mighty 1090 AM Radio talked with draft prospect Kyle Van Noy in this audio link.

The BYU outside linebacker is a possible target of the San Diego Chargers, and said he would love to play for San Diego if the team selects him. The Chargers worked out Van Noy at his pro day last month.

“I’m going to be real with you, it would be like the ideal place for me,” Van Noy said, when Smith asked about the possibility of coming to San Diego. “I’ve been a Chargers’ fan for a while. There’s beautiful weather, and I’ve got family there as well. So San Diego would be my No. 1 spot, even though being in this draft you’re not supposed to have favorites.”

One other interesting thing Van Noy said is he views himself as an offensive guy playing defense. Van Noy was recruited by several Division I schools as a receiver, but chose BYU because he wanted to hit people and play defense.

For a defense like San Diego that struggled to create turnovers, Van Noy’s nose for the football could come in handy. He finished with 26 career sacks at BYU, seven interceptions and 21 pass breakups.

Kevin Acee of U-T San Diego debates whether local taxpayers should contribute in some way to the building of a new stadium for the Chargers. He believes the team’s proposal for building a new stadium, which includes no new taxes, is a fair one.

Former Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman is joining the WWE.

Ricky Henne of profiles LSU receiver Odell Beckham.

Kyle Posey of Bolts from the Blue likes the upside of South Carolina receiver Bruce Ellington.

Chris Burke of Sports Illustrated lists his top 10 receivers. I think Brandin Cooks should be higher than No. 6 on the list.

The Chargers announce final selections of the 2014 Chargers girls.

Shawne Merriman joins WWE

April, 12, 2014
Apr 12

Shawne Merriman is going from the football field to the wrestling ring.

The NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2005, Merriman has joined World Wrestling Enterainment, according to a report by SB Nation's Testudo Times Blog.

It's unclear what role Merriman will have with the WWE, the report said. But said Merriman will be an announcer while training to be a wrestler.

Merriman was part of the Wrestlemania pre-show on WWE Network last weekend.

WWE superstar Ray Mysterio recently posted a photo with Merriman on his Instagram account.

Merriman, a first-round pick in 2005 with the San Diego Chargers, combined for 39.5 sacks in his first three seasons, garnering the nickname "Lights Out" for his hard hits and aggressive demeanor.

A series of injuries, however, caught up to him, and he was particularly bothered by a sore right Achilles tendon. It's an injury that led to the Chargers waiving him during the 2010 season.

(Read full post)

In this series we take a look at 12 players for the San Diego Chargers who are 25 or younger and who could be considered foundational or impact players.

Player: DE Kendall Reyes
Age: 24

The skinny: Selected in the second round of the 2012 draft by the Chargers out of the University of Connecticut, Reyes put together another solid season. At 6-4 and 300 pounds, Reyes finished second on the team in sacks with five and totaled 34 combined tackles -- not bad for a 3-4 defensive end mainly responsible for eating up blocks so the edge rushers can get to the quarterback.

Reason for optimism: Reyes' production is trending up, with 10.5 sacks over the past two seasons. So the expectation should be development into a more proficient pass-rusher and stout defender in the run game. In his first full year as a starter, Reyes started in every regular-season game and the two postseason games, playing in a career-high 686 regular-season snaps. Reyes also played through a couple nagging injuries, so durability has been a strength so far early in his career.

Reason for concern: Depth is an issue up front defensively for the Chargers, with only six defensive linemen currently on the roster. San Diego needs to add a couple of talented defensive linemen in the draft, or after the draft through free agency so front-line players like Reyes do not burn out by the end of the upcoming season, particularly if the Chargers make the playoffs again. San Diego also needs to consider how best to use the athletic Reyes to take advantage of his unique skill set as an early-down run stuffer, and a guy who can push the pocket in passing situations.
In an interview with Mike Costa and Judson Richards of Xtra Sports 1360 AM radio, San Diego Chargers center Nick Hardwick did not mince words when asked about his expectations for quarterback Philip Rivers.

He believes Rivers will have the best year of his career in 2014. Hardwick said that played into his decision to return to playing field after an offseason mulling retirement.

"I can't imagine not playing with Philip this year because I truly believe this is going to be his best year of his whole career, from here on out," Hardwick said.

You can listen to the entire interview here. The conversation begins 20 minutes in.

Hardwick's lofty expectations for the 32-year-old Rivers are warranted based on his quarterback's impressive performance in his first season operating under coach Mike McCoy's offense in 2013.

And even though offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt moved on to be head coach with Tennessee, not much should change with quarterbacks coach Frank Reich taking over as San Diego's offensive coordinator.

The Chargers return everyone from last year's starting offense in 2014, and added another weapon in free agency in running back Donald Brown. And Rivers should be even more efficient with another year in McCoy's system under his belt.

"They obviously knew that they had a great mind and a great quarterback in Philip, and we want to use him as much as we can," Hardwick said. "Let his brain work on the field because it's completely capable.

"Frank Reich has said he's the smartest guy on the field when he's out there, and he certainly is. So let him see what he's seeing, give him flexibility and time to be able to change to the plays that he wants to change to, and he can make a lot happen."

Hardwick also discussed the process he went through in deciding whether he would play another season. Hardwick turns 33 years old in September.

"For the last four years I've always evaluated where I'm at," Hardwick said. "Where I want to be, my situation in life and where we are at financially. And how is my health most importantly, and am I having fun?

"Do I think football-wise can I contribute to a winning football team -- can I put a winning effort on the football field? Do I have enough energy to give throughout the week, and throughout the entire season to lead the team, to rally guys and to do what a center has to do to be effective? And can I live up to the standard I've set for myself?

"And after a month or two of evaluation, I can absolutely do that again, and I'm going to do that again."