The NFL offseason has already featured several marquee free-agent signings and big-name trades have changed the league landscape. Among a sizable group of extremely aggressive teams is the Los Angeles Chargers, who have made a series of moves that put them in position to compete for a Super Bowl.
Prior to free agency, Los Angeles acquired superstar pass rusher Khalil Mack in a trade with the Chicago Bears. General manager Tom Telesco and the front office followed that up by making great signings with incumbent and outside free agents.
The Chargers brought back star receiver Mike Williams on a three-year, $60 million deal, then nabbed cornerback J.C. Jackson on the open market, broadly considered the best defensive player available. Jackson solidifies their secondary and is on a five-year $82.5 million deal.
Interior defensive lineman Sebastian Joseph-Day is reuniting with Chargers head coach Brandon Staley, who was his defensive coordinator with the Los Angeles Rams. He will fill a hole as a run stuffer and help the Chargers' defense improve vastly.
With that said, here are three reasons the Chargers are the biggest early winners of 2022 NFL free agency.
3 reasons Chargers are winning 2022 NFL free agency
3. Offense will remain elite
Going into the offseason, it seemed there was a chance Williams would land with a new team. Multiple teams were interested in him, but Los Angeles was able to bring him back.
Retaining Williams keeps the passing offense explosive with Justin Herbert at the helm. Williams is coming off a career year, with 76 receptions for 1,146 yards and nine touchdowns. He is the deep threat for Los Angeles' offense, fitting perfectly alongside Keenan Allen.
Having Austin Ekeler at running back gives the Chargers a versatile threat. Ekeler is a good running back but also an excellent receiver. His multi-faceted skill set opens up the offense to more concepts and forces defenses to adjust.
Herbert is entering his third season in the NFL and has already taken the league by storm. Last season, he threw for 5,014 yards along with 38 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Herbert has improved by leaps and bounds since he entered the league and should take at least one more step forward in 2022.
2. Chargers can stop the run
One of the biggest weaknesses for Los Angeles the last few years has been stopping the run. Telesco made sure to address that deficiency in free agency with multiple acquisitions. The defense added Mack via trade while signing defensive tackles Joseph-Day and Austin Jackson in free agency.
These additions will drastically help the Chargers contain opposing running attacks. The defensive line now consists of Joey Bosa, Mack, Joseph-Day and Jackson, a difficult group for offensive lines to contain. Although Joseph-Day and Jackson aren't household names, they have proven they can stop the run.
With a rebuilt defensive line, Staley's defense should be vastly improved against elite rushing attacks.
1. A much-needed No. 1 corner
Signing Jackson came completely out of the blue for Los Angeles. He's one of the best cornerbacks in football and is great at making plays on the ball. He had eight interceptions in 2021, bringing his total to 25 picks over just four seasons.
Jackson's play will be crucial for the Chargers' success, as the AFC West is set to be the best division in football. The Kansas City Chiefs, Las Vegas Raiders and Denver Broncos all have rosters capable of making a deep playoff run. Jackson will be called upon to limit those team's best receivers twice a season. This means he will be put on Tyreek Hill, Davante Adams and Jerry Jeudy, along others, with elite quarterbacks throwing them the ball.
Having a legitimate number one corner will give Los Angeles an advantage against division opponents. While it won't be easy, the Chargers have a shot at the Super Bowl this season with Jackson, Mack and their other new additions in the fold.