Better Chargers Free Agent Signing: Kyle Van Noy Or Bryce Callahan?
Earlier this week I wrote about three questions the Chargers needed to answer after the 2022 NFL Draft, and so far this week they have emphatically answered two of the three by signing much-needed veteran depth in Van Noy and Callahan. I’ll give some immediate thoughts on each signing and then you can join in on the fun with the Sided linked below.
Let’s start with Van Noy, the most recent signing. The Chargers needed to bolster their pass rush after leaving the draft empty-handed in that regard and everyone knew it, including Brandon Staley. Khalil Mack will be a big-time upgrade over the departed Uchenna Nwosu, and Van Noy will be an upgrade over the departed Kyler Fackrell, whom the Chargers signed last year.
Over the last two seasons for the Patriots and Dolphins, respectively, Van Noy accumulated 60 pressures and 10 sacks. In that same time frame for the Chargers and Giants, Fackrell totaled 31 pressures and seven sacks. It might be a little unfair to compare Fackrell to a player of Van Noy’s reputation, but the production came from a very similar amount of pass rush opportunities.
The Patriots love to use their edge rushers as hybrid off-ball players, and Van Noy has been very successful in that role. Last season he logged 480 snaps on the edge and 343 as an off-the-ball linebacker. I would expect his full-time edge rusher experience from 2019 will be what the Chargers lean on, however, with the off-ball linebacker experience being more of a break glass in case of emergency type of thing. They already signed Troy Reeder this offseason, and also have four other linebackers beyond him so they’re really already set at that position. In that 2019 season, he totaled 60 pressures, eight sacks, and nine additional quarterback hits.
As for Callahan, I think this was another very good post-draft signing but he obviously carries more risk than Van Noy does due to his injury history – he has never played more than 13 games in his career and missed the entire 2019 season due to a problematic foot injury. Still, Callahan was arguably the best slot corner on the free-agent market this year. He’s also spent a ton of time in the Staley/Vic Fangio scheme from his time on the Bears and on the Broncos so this should be a seamless transition from that standpoint.
While Van Noy will give them positional versatility, Callahan is pretty pigeonholed into being a slot-only cornerback due to his lack of size and length. That’s not as big of an issue with the size and length that Michael Davis, Derwin James, J.T. Woods, and Mark Webb will bring to the table. Ideally, Callahan is the Chargers’ fourth cornerback after J.C. Jackson, Asante Samuel Jr., and Davis. His experience and production will give the Chargers plenty of flexibility though. Staley has said that Jackson will take the opposing team’s best wide receiver, after that they’ll have the luxury (if everyone is healthy) to play the matchups. If the second receiver is someone like Hunter Renfrow or the recently drafted Skyy Moore, they can use Samuel and/or Callahan. If a team’s second receiver is more of a physically imposing type then they can use Davis or one of the safeties. The value Callahan will bring to a team that had one of the worst third-down coverage units in the league cannot be overstated.
Ultimately, I like both of these signings even if I wish they would have simply taken these needs off the board with younger players via the draft. I will also say as well, that I like the veteran presence this brings to players like Samuel and Kenneth Murray. If Samuel is going to transition more to the slot, having someone like Callahan will help him ease into that world. The same goes for Murray if they still envision him as a potential hybrid player – remember that Staley said in early November that he thought an apt comparison for Murray was Van Noy’s former teammate Dont’a Hightower.
That being said, Chargers fans: which of these two signings do you think will have more of an impact on the 2022 season? Vote below and take a side!