The Los Angeles Chargers aren’t making major waves in free agency, but they are addressing some key needs after getting to the AFC’s divisional round last season.
The team announced on Friday it has re-signed safety Adrian Phillips to a one-year deal, shortly after linebacker Thomas Davis and quarterback Tyrod Taylor met reporters.
Phillips will be entering his sixth season and is one of the league’s top players on special teams. He was an All-Pro selection last season after leading the NFL with 19 special teams tackles. He also started seven games as the Chargers’ third safety and made 77 tackles, including five tackles for loss. In the wild-card playoff win at Baltimore, he became the first player in nearly two years to have an interception and fumble recovery in a postseason game.
“He’s a big part of this team. We love having him back,” coach Anthony Lynn said of Phillips.
Phillips is the third defensive free agent the Chargers have re-signed, but was their most important to retain. Los Angeles has also kept linebacker Denzel Perryman and tackle Brandon Mebane.
With the release of Jahleel Addae, Phillips will go into the season as the likely starter at free safety. Addae was moved from strong to free safety last year after the Chargers drafted Derwin James in the first round.
Davis also will be a key part of the team’s plans on defense as he adds experience at linebacker. Davis comes to Los Angeles after spending his entire 14-year career with Carolina, and said he never imagined leaving the Panthers until he was able to enter free agency.
“I feel like I still have a lot left in the tank. I am one of the more athletic linebackers in this league.,” said Davis, who will turn 36 next Friday. “I’m looking forward to it. Everything is fresh and new for me. That’s not always a bad thing. For me, it’s definitely a good thing.”
Davis is being penciled in at one of the outside linebacker spots, which also includes Kyzir White and Jatavis Brown, while Perryman would remain at middle linebacker. White, Brown and Perryman all ended up on injured reserve by the end of last season, but the Chargers still were ranked ninth in total defense, the first time they were in the top 10 since 2014.
Taylor said some teams reached out about him competing for a starting spot, but that the opportunity to be reunited with Lynn was too good to pass up. Lynn was an assistant coach at Buffalo for two seasons and the offensive coordinator in 2016.
“It was definitely tough because, as a competitor, you want to go out there and play. I think this is the right fit for me. I think I made the right decision,” he said.
Taylor, who has started 46 games during his eight-year career, also said getting to an organization with some stability was another key factor. Taylor has dealt with plenty of upheaval the past three seasons in Buffalo and Cleveland.
Philip Rivers has started 208 consecutive games, tied for the third-longest QB streak in NFL history, but general manager Tom Telesco said having a backup with starting experience was vital.
Telesco said he has not been surprised at the level of activity around the league at the start of free agency, but did admit the Chargers are a little less aggressive on the market due to their tight cap situation. They are also wary of making any big splashes because Rivers and running back Melvin Gordon are entering the final year of their contracts.
“We don’t have a lot of space to go after players, but our track record on free agency has been pretty good,” Telesco said. “All situations are unique. It’s fun signing players, I get that, but we’re not just judged on offseasons.”