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Chargers: Who should L.A. target when NFL Free Agency officially opens?

The Chargers have been quiet throughout the legal tampering period and young NFL offseason. It makes sense since they’re about 24th in cap space with roughly $20 million, per Spotrac.com.

That’s okay since Los Angeles does not have a lot of wholes on their roster. They did headline the offseason by extending CB Casey Hayward as well as re-signing WR Tyrell Williams and LB Nick Dzubnar.

What will the Chargers do when Free Agency officially opens today? Here are some players they should target.

The Big Fish: LB Zach Brown

Zach Brown is one of the few marquee free agents available when the market officially opens today. At one point, Brown was reportedly asking for $10 million per season. This is a narrative we’re used to seeing as Brown has commanded a lot of money the past few seasons he has been on the open market.

Brown is 28 and he’s turned into more of a run-stuffer the past few seasons. Thus, he’s unlikely to see the double-digit salary he is hoping for. However, the Chargers defense desperately needs to improve against the run. Brown can help the Chargers do that and he’s still capable in coverage.

Moreover, Brown brings 4-3 and 3-4 defensive scheme experience which makes him a perfect fit in the Chargers hybrid scheme. He finished last season with 84 tackles and 2.5 sacks for Washington last season.

The Dark Horse: DL Sheldon Richardson

Here’s one that no one is talking about because the Chargers are already stacked at pass rusher with Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa. However, they need a 3-technique defensive tackle and Richardson makes sense for that role.

Last season, Richardson went to Seattle where he played primarily as a 4-3 defensive tackle for the first time in a couple of seasons. It was the second season he finished the year with less than two sacks. Seattle also runs a similar scheme to the Chargers since L.A. employees Gus Bradley who was the defensive coordinator that a while back.

Nonetheless, Richardson is stout against the run which makes him an upgrade over some of the less known names on the Chargers defensive line. Additionally, he could dominate as the third pass rusher. Ingram and Bosa can see the double-teams while Richardson can use his speed on the interior. If he does not get the big-money or Seattle does not want to keep him, Los Angeles makes sense for Richardson.

The Obvious Pick: DB Deshawn Shead

Speaking of former Seahawks, Deshawn Shead is another player that makes sense for the Chargers. Shead was hurt last season and only appeared in two games. However, he’s shown an ability to play both inside and outside corner as well as safety.

The Chargers could use some depth at corner give Jason Verrett‘s injuries. They have Hayward and Desmod King but adding Shead gives them another big and physical corner. Plus, Tre Boston is a free agent which could allow Shead to compete for some playing time at safety.

Shead should come on a bargain given his injuries last season. He played under Bradley his rookie year and he’s a Los Angeles native. Plus, Shead has playoff experience. This sounds like a perfect match.

Bargin-Bin: T Marshall Newhouse

The AFC West rivals Oakland Raiders dropped Marshall Newhouse earlier this week. Newhouse started 14 games at right tackle for the Raiders and he became a fan favorite for his hilarious run attempt and tweets.

Nonetheless, the Chargers need help on the offensive line specifically at right tackle. At age 30, Newhouse can come and immediately challenge Joe Barksdale for playing time. Newhouse is also a journeyman with experience across the offensive lineman. That makes him an ideal reserve for the Chargers given Forrest Lamp’s recovery as well as all the injuries they’ve had across the offensive line over the past few seasons. That unit stayed relatively healthy last year but Russell Okung and Barksdale do have their own injury histories.

Hence, the Chargers could add Newhouse as a flexible depth option and potential starter at right tackle. He’s a solid to adequate tackle who can execute both zone and power blocking schemes. That’s what L.A. needs, especially if the price is right.

Honorable Mention

Don’t expect the Chargers to do anything crazy in free agency. They don’t have the roster needs or cap space so they are better off filling roster gaps via the NFL Draft. Still, they could add some veteran competition at safety, linebacker, guard, tackle, d-line and running back. This is especially important if they decide to use a high draft pick to net Rivers’ heir or grab a kicker.

Some names the Chargers should have an eye on include Dominique Easley, Dontari Poe, Bennie Logan, Navorro Bowman, T.J. Carrie, LaAdrian Waddle, Jeremy Hill, Byron Maxwell, Patrick Omameh, Luke Joeckel, CJ Spiller, E.J. Manuel, Sean Witherspoon, Charles Sims, Taiwan Jones, Bishop Sankey, Antone Exum, Keith McGill, Preston Brown, Matt Tobin, Tim Barnes, Terrance West, Denico Autry, Michael Thomas, Damien Williams, Will Compton, Tom Johnson, Todd Davis, Nate Allen, Darren Sproles, Austin Howard, Benjamin ljalana and Brian Cushing.