4 bold predictions for the 2022 NFL offseason

After a heartbreaking loss at the hands of the Las Vegas Raiders, the Los Angeles Chargers failed to qualify for the 2021 season playoffs after posting a strong year. With Justin Herbert and others looking to turn things around, the 2022 NFL offseason will be key to any playoff hopes this team may have.

With an extremely long roster of free agents on their team’s open market, the Chargers have a lot of big decisions to make this offseason, but are running out of space to make them. With few teams having a salary cap to use this offseason, that bodes well for Los Angeles in their pursuit of the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West.

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Chargers Offseason Predictions

4. Return of Mike Williams

The first four years of his career were pretty uneven (only one career 1K receiving yards season), but Mike Williams stepped up a notch in his contract season, producing career highs across the board.

76 receptions for 1,146 and 9 touchdowns was what Williams produced last year, but with 7 career-worst falls, so it wasn’t all perfect. With Keenan Allen aging and Josh Palmer still needing to get his feet on the ground in the NFL, a comeback for Williams makes sense.

3. Brandon Scherff becomes OL presenter

The Chargers have set out to protect Herbert the past two offseasons, bringing in two former Packers from Green Bay — tackle Bryan Bulaga and center Corey Linsley. With both players having potential outs in their deals if the team is to move on, the offensive line needs some depth.

Brandon Scherff is the best OL on the free market this offseason and arguably the best free agent, which means he will have plenty of suitors. But with the Chargers having plenty of cap space to work from, they could help secure Scherff’s services for the next 4-5 seasons by outbidding everyone else.

Scherff is over 30 himself (as are Bulaga and Linsley), which presents a risk, but his consistent play justifies a huge salary to help keep Herbert clean.

2. Two TE additions are made

Jared Cook and Donald Parham were the Chargers’ two tight ends last year, and they continued that position’s downward trend, so something has to change.

Investing resources in this position would provide Herbert with even more targets in the passing game, hopefully forcing defenses to choose who to cover and who to leave open.

A likely target in free agency is Miami’s Mike Gesicki — the 26-year-old is up there with Dalton Schultz as the cream of the TE crop this offseason, but Gesicki will likely be on the cheaper side. Stealing from another AFC team is fine, but Gesicki could finally restore relevance to the TE position the Chargers haven’t seen since Antonio Gates.

The draft lacks the talent of Kyle Pitts this year, but the depth is impressive. Colorado State’s Trey McBride is the TE1 for some analysts due to his fluidity and his ability to be a capable blocker and receiver, valuable tools to have at the next level.

1. Big budget expansions distributed to stars

Austin Ekeler and Derwin James are due for contract extensions soon, as Ekeler has two years left and James heads into the final year of his rookie contract. As both players have risen to star status for the Chargers, it’s safe to say they deserve significant contract extensions.

For Ekeler, securing the bag is important at this stage of his career as running backs are treated like garbage when it comes to overtime negotiations. But with his two-way abilities in attack and how integral he is to the game plan, it’s a no-brainer for Ekeler to be handed a wad of cash for the next two-plus years.

A deal for Ekeler would likely end up lasting two more years at the end of his current deal which is due to end after the 2023 season and would push him into the open market at the age of 29. It’s an age that RBs tend to get overlooked, so getting his money guaranteed now would be smart.

For James, he’s looking to land his first big NFL contract, and the Chargers are going to have to pay through the nose if they want to keep him long-term.

For comparison, Tyronn Mathieu signed a five-year contract, $62.5 million contract with the Arizona Cardinals at the age of 23. James will play the 2022 season at age 26, but will likely command a five-year contract with more guaranteed and overall money than Mathieu received, likely putting him behind Jamal Adams and ahead of Justin Simmons in terms of overall salary.

The Chargers are an exciting team with a core that’s mostly on the same timeline — if they can find a way to make it work in the tough AFC West, then the sky’s the limit for them moving forward.

Rams, Joe BUrrow, Aaron Donald

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