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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Gavino Borquez

1 pending free agent Chargers should target: AFC North Edition

The Chargers won’t be as aggressive as they have been in recent years when it comes to signing free agents.

While they’re cash-strapped, general manager Tom Telesco will likely make some moves to have some spendings available to them so they can sign some low-cost players.

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That said, I will list one pending free agent from each team in the NFL that could be a realistic target for L.A.

Next up is the AFC North.

Cincinnati Bengals: G Max Scharping

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The Chargers need more depth along the offensive line, which they would be able to get with Scharping, a player with plenty of experience, including 33 starts. Scharping was originally a 2019 second-round pick by the Texans. He played his first two seasons at left guard, allowing four sacks on 930 pass-blocking snaps. In 2021, he moved to right guard, where he allowed two sacks on 400 pass block snaps. Scharping was waived prior to the 2022 season and picked up by the Bengals. He served as depth before being called on to start in Cincinnati’s three playoff games due to injuries. Overall, Scharping has the stoutness, run blocking and athleticism to be counted on in a pinch. Additionally, he has the versatility to play tackle.

Pittsburgh Steelers: EDGE Malik Reed

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Chargers will be in the market for edge defender depth behind Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack. They could target someone that Brandon Staley is familiar with. Staley was Reed’s position coach in 2019 on the Broncos. In three seasons with Denver, Reed had over 20 quarterback pressures, with 36 coming in 2020. That was also the same year he had a career-high eight sacks. This past season, the Steelers traded for Reed. He had a down year, finishing with just ten pressures. But at 26 years old, Reed is still a young and talented edge defender who could supply juice in a rotational role.

Baltimore Ravens: WR Demarcus Robinson

Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

The Chargers could be remodeling the wide receiver position this offseason. While the draft is the most optimal route, they may seek the free agency pool, especially if Keenan Allen becomes a cut casualty or trade candidate. And Robinson would be a good get. The 28-year-old Robinson flourishes as a down-the-field and after-the-catch threat, winning with his straight-line speed and slivers of separation with his polished route running. In addition, his 6-foot-1 and 207-pound frame and strong hands allow him to succeed in contested situations and the red zone. Robinson spent six years with the Chiefs, with 145 receptions for 1,679 yards and 14 touchdowns. This past season with the Ravens, Robinson had 48 catches for 458 yards and a pair of scores.

Cleveland Browns: RB D'Ernest Johnson

The Chargers finished with one of the least efficient rushing offenses in the league. Much of it has to do with the injuries along the offensive line and to Donald Parham and Keenan Allen. But Sony Michel wasn’t impactful, nor was Isaiah Spiller or Larry Rountree. Joshua Kelley flashed, but he was hurt for four games. Ultimately, offensive coordinator Kellen Moore may want to bring in a new body to the running back room to compete behind Austin Ekeler. Johnson only had four carries and 17 yards in 2022 while being buried on the depth chart behind Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. However, his 2021 campaign saw him carry the ball 100 times for 534 yards (5.3 yards per carry) when Chubb and Hunt were hurt, showing that he can be a solid contributor.

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