Chargers 2022 Free Agency Tracker
Your one-stop-shop for every signing the Chargers make throughout free agency, with contract details. We will update them with grades and more depth once we have more to go on.
J.C. Jackson – New England Patriots
After the Combine press conference of Brandon Staley, everyone knew the Chargers were going to be aggressive on the cornerback market – it was just a matter of who they would sign. They were connected early and often to Jackson, and it became clear he was their number one target. There was some mild interest in others, such as former Chiefs cornerback Charvarius Ward.
Free agency started at 9 am PST, and mum was the word. Despite other teams making moves almost immediately. Much like Corey Linsley before him, it was clear the Chargers were going to go after Jackson and wait to make other moves after he made his decision. Then around 1:30 PST, word came that the two parties had agreed to terms. Jackson would sign with the Charges for five years, and $82.5 million. Not quite a market setter but still a great contract for a former undrafted free agent.
On the field, Jackson will provide Staley with the true number one corner that he so desperately needed. Jackson is an elite man-to-man cover corner who can keep up with all of the great wide receivers on a week-to-week basis. He’ll also bring great ball production to the table as he was able to get his hands on 20 passes (8 interceptions) last season for the Patriots, which will create more opportunities for Justin Herbert and company. This is an absolute home run considering the talent and the contract.
Austin Johnson – New York Giants
A few hours after the Jackson signing was announced, the Chargers moved towards solving their defensive line and Johnson was the first signing to come down. The former second-round pick out of Penn State didn’t really live up to his potential in Tennessee, but he carved out a really nice role with the Giants last season and was quietly one of the most productive interior defenders against the run.[pickup_prop id=”21816″]
There were only four defensive tackles who finished with more run stops than Johnson did last season: Aaron Donald, D.J. Jones, Christian Wilkins, and Daron Payne. He was freed up for a larger role after the Giants traded B.J. Hill to the Bengals and Johnson capitalized. It’s clear the Chargers think his best ball is ahead of him and I tend to agree. The Chargers were able to get him signed under a two-year contract worth up to $14 million – a fantastic value signing that fills a big need. He’ll start alongside the Chargers’ next sign and clog up all the running lanes.
Sebastian Joseph-Day – Los Angeles Rams
Jackson became one of the biggest no-brainers for the Chargers once it became clear the Patriots were not going to bring him back, Joseph-Day was shortly behind him on that list though. Joseph-Day is a dominant nose tackle, which was a big need for the Chargers since Linval Joseph was unlikely to return.
Joseph-Day tore a pectoral muscle midway through last season for the Rams, but up until that injury happened he was pacing the entire league in run stops and run stop percentage (15.8%), which did hold all the way throughout the season. Before the injury, he was on pace for a whopping 44 run stops which would have been nine more than the league-leading 35 from the aforementioned quartet. This isn’t a “flashy” signing but his physical presence will control the line of scrimmage and allow Staley to play the type of defense that he wants to. He signed a three-year, $24 million deal to switch locker rooms at SoFi Stadium.
Josh Harris – Atlanta Falcons
The Chargers hired Ryan Ficken to be their new special teams coordinator and we knew that he was going to have a strong say in personnel decisions to upgrade the unit. His first external add is Harris, who was a Pro Bowler and 2nd team All-Pro in 2021. He led all long snappers in tackles last season and has received a grade higher than 75 in each of the last three seasons according to PFF. His four-year, $5.6 million contract with the Chargers makes him the highest-paid long snapper in the league. Harris had been with the Falcons since 2013.
Gerald Everett – Seattle Seahawks
The Chargers have clearly established desired roles for their tight end room and needed to replace their big slot receiver in Cook. Enter Everett, the former Seahawk, and Rams standout. Everett logged 33% of his snaps in the slot in Shane Waldron’s Seattle offense, and that should be a seamless transition in Joe Lombardi’s offense. He set career highs in catches (48), yards (478), and touchdowns (4) in 2021 despite missing two games and dealing with the Geno Smith-led offense for four games. He signed a two-year, $12 million deal to come back to Los Angeles, which is barely more than the Chargers paid for Cook. My only concern here is what this does for Stephen Anderson‘s future with the Chargers.
External free agency started with Jackson on Monday afternoon, but the Chargers quietly extended Hopkins on Sunday night with a three-year deal worth potentially up to $12 million. After being released by the Washington Commanders, Hopkins signed with the Charges during their week seven bye. During his time with the Chargers, he made 18-20 field goals and 30-32 extra points. Of all the Chargers specialists, he felt like the safest bet to return after the Chargers moved on from Derius Swinton and hired Ryan Ficken.
On Tuesday, the Chargers re-signed backup QB, Chase Daniel, with a 1-year deal, worth $2.25 million. This keeps continuity in the QB room and keeps a veteran voice and presence should Justin Herbert get injured during the season. The hope is that he will not see the field at all in 2022, but he is a solid backup, and a great veteran for Herbert to lean on as he continues to grow as an NFL QB.
The Chargers announced on Thursday afternoon that they re-signed Covington, and it’ll be a one-year deal likely at the veteran minimum. Covington signed with the Chargers during the summer last year and carved out a nice role for himself. Staley had nothing but positive things to say about him all season long so there’s clearly some belief there that Covington’s best ball is ahead of him. Covington has some versatility as someone who can play the nose or the three-technique defensive tackle in Staley’s defense, much like Joseph-Day and Johnson do as well. The Chargers’ defensive line is slowly coming together now.
The Chargers announced the tenders of Norton and the following two players. Norton will be back with the team after essentially starting most of the season in Bryan Bulaga’s absence. The decision to tender him ($895,000), and not give him a long-term deal is a clear sign that the Chargers do not view him as a starting-caliber player. This makes sense after he gave up the second-most pressures in the league and finished with the 8th worst Pass Blocking Efficiency Rating among all tackles with a minimum of 20% snaps. I still expect the Chargers to make some kind of move at right tackle to improve the position and allow Norton and former third-rounder Trey Pipkins to have another training camp battle for the swing tackle role.
The decision to bring back the team’s third-leading wide receiver and primary deep threat on a cheap tender deal ($965,000) was an easy decision. Guyton is probably better suited as a fourth or fifth receiver, which could certainly happen with more development from Josh Palmer and inserting another draft pick into the receiver room next month. Still, his speed and rapport with Herbert are valuable, despite the way fans view him on social media.
The Chargers were hoping Parham could take another step forward in his development and for the most part he did. He became a much better blocker in year two and proved he could be a reliable target in the passing game when called upon. Still, the Chargers clearly view him as more of a supporting option in the tight end room as opposed to a true number one. He essentially missed the last four games of the season after that awful concussion he sustained against the Chiefs, but he was able to set career highs across the board. I expect them to add a veteran to replace Jared Cook, but look for Parham to take another step forward in his development in 2022.
*Latest edit: March 20th, 2022 – post-Everett signing. The Chargers’ free agency class is rounding into form as the first week comes to a close. They needed to upgrade their pass coverage, pass rush, and run defense and those goals have been accomplished. I don’t think they will sign any other big names on defense, and instead focus on the cheap veteran market to fill out the roster on that side of the ball. On offense, they still have questions along the offensive line with holes at right guard and right tackle. I still believe Oday Aboushi will be back on the Chargers, even after he tore his ACL early in the season. Running back is also an issue behind Austin Ekeler but that is shaping up to be a draft problem. The Chargers have around $11 million in spending money left to attack some of those needs.