The Los Angeles Chargers will come into the 2024 NFL season as one of the most interesting teams, thanks mostly to their new head coach, Jim Harbaugh. The former Michigan Wolverines head coach is by far one of the most intriguing and unique individuals in all of sports, but he's also one of the most successful, coming off a national championship victory. Chargers fans are hoping the success will follow him to Los Angeles.

There are probably several reasons why Harbaugh decided to return to the NFL, ranging from pending Michigan violations to simply wanting to be a top NFL coach again. But most likely at the top of that list is winning a Super Bowl. Harbaugh fell just short of that feat back in 2013 when he then coached the San Francisco 49ers and lost to his brother John Harbaugh and the Baltimore Ravens 34-31.

For Harbaugh, one of the draws for taking the Chargers job had to be the roster, especially seeing as his starting quarterback would be Justin Herbert. Granted, the team did lose some integral pieces in free agency for cap purposes, yet still, this team is well in line to compete in 2024 and beyond. And some of that comes from the work that the Chargers did of their own in free agency.

Jim Harbaugh rebuilt the Chargers offense this offseason

Harbaugh has a certain scheme and philosophy on how to build his offense. The offensive line is of the utmost importance, which should have been apparent from the Chargers' first-round pick of Notre Dame's offensive tackle Joe Alt. The other is running back, which has been a staple of Harbaugh's offense going all the way back to Stanford, and then with the 49ers and Michigan. That's why the team signed both former Ravens Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins this offseason.

Then there's the tight end position. While the running game was the emphasis of Michigan's offense last season, when they did decide to throw the ball, the tight end was a big part of the offense. Wide receiver Roman Wilson led the team with 789 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns, but behind him was Colston Loveland with 649 yards and four touchdowns. With last year's leading tight end Gerald Everett off to the Chicago Bears, the Chargers needed to add to the position, which is why they signed Hayden Hurst this offseason.

Hayden Hurst Chargers' signing comes with risk

Jun 13, 2024; Costa Mesa, CA, USA; Los Angeles Chargers tight end Hayden Hurst (88) during minicamp at the Hoag Performance Center.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Hayden Hurst is a pro's pro tight end. He has six years of experience, playing with what will be his fifth team this season. His most productive season came during his first season with the Atlanta Falcons, where in 16 games he boasted 56 receptions, 571 yards, and six touchdowns. After his two years there, he has been on one-year deals, first with the Cincinnati Bengals and then last year with the Carolina Panthers.

His time with the Panthers, however, was cut very short. The 30-year-old played in just nine games, resulting in only 18 receptions, 184 yards, and one touchdown for the season. That was due to Hurst suffering a Grade 3 concussion in a game against the Bears on Thursday Night Football in Week 10.

The concussion was so severe that Hurst couldn't remember anything up to four hours after the game and was later diagnosed with post-traumatic amnesia by an independent neurologist. With added emphasis not only on information about head trauma but treatment and potential aftereffects, this has to be concerning for the Chargers.

No matter how you slice it, concussions are the biggest concern for any team during this day and age in the NFL. In such a physical, high-impact game, concussions could happen on just about any play, especially for a tight end that is not only blocking but receiving.

Luckily, last year's concussion injury was only Hurst's first, and he later revealed he and the Panthers both agreed there was no need to bring him back after the team's horrible season last year, according to Pro Football Talk.

“I had the concussion and for a week after it was a little touch-and-go, but I went to the Mayo Clinic down in Jacksonville, got a second opinion, got a full clean bill of health,” Hurst said. “The only reason I sat out as long as I did was just, from the front office, there was really no point. They were 2-15, or 2-13 at the time, so there was really no point in rushing back.”

Hurst looks to have a clean bill of health heading into the season, which is more than encouraging, and it suggests he could be in line for a big year. However, the impact of his concussion means his future play must be managed with careful attention.