Chargers Special Teams Watch: Should They Acquire Another Return Specialist In 2023?

With the loss of DeAndre Carter to the Raiders, do the Chargers Special Teams need someone else responsible for kickoff and punt returns?

On March 30 it was reported that DeAndre Carter was signing with the Raiders. In addition to stepping in during the season for an injured Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, Carter played a big role on the Chargers special teams and was revered for his return specialist skills. Last season, he had 26 kickoff return attempts and 29 punt return attempts, with an overall PFF kickoff return grade of 49 and a punt return PFF grade of 61.9.

Though Carter didn’t have any special teams touchdowns with the LA Chargers as he did with the Commanders in 2021, and his grades declined from the previous year, there was just that little extra bit of security when he was handling the kickoffs or punts, knowing that he had so much experience in this area.

On top of that, he had some nice moments as a receiver. He had the 23-yard gain during the Falcons game in Week 9 and three receiving touchdowns throughout the season. The Chargers special teams unit was firing on all cylinders with the addition of punter J.K. Scott, and they ultimately ended up finishing 12th in the league according to PFF, with a special teams grade of 85.9.

Chargers Special Teams
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The Chargers Special Teams Have Added Return Specialists In The Past

The Chargers have had players in the past who mainly focus on kickoff and punt returns. Wide receiver Andre Roberts was that player for them in 2021 and had 31 combined kickoff and punt return attempts. He also has a history of being a return specialist for other teams and was coming off two previous seasons in Buffalo in 2019 and 2020 where had 54 and 69 combined return attempts, respectively. Cornerback Desmond King was the return specialist for the Chargers before that with 56 combined return attempts in 2018 and 36 in 2019, and continues to hold that role for the Texans currently. 

Will The Chargers Special Teams Get Another Return Specialist? 

It’s tricky. Special team’s roles can be taught, and that was definitely emphasized during training camp with many Chargers special teamers last summer, especially the rookies who were entering the gunner roles. The team definitely needs another wide receiver, in addition to hopefully getting back Jalen Guyton, so perhaps even if they don’t get someone specifically that has experience as a returner, they can draft or acquire a wide receiver who can be molded into a dual threat. 

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What do you think? Should the Chargers acquire another return specialist?