Los Angeles Chargers Target List: Top 4 Defensive Line Free Agents

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The Los Angeles Chargers‘ defensive line situation may be the direst among many less-than-ideal position group situations on the team. Two of the Chargers 2023 starters are free agents, Nick Williams and Austin Johnson. Morgan Fox is the only returning starter. Of the five other rostered players, only Otito Ogbonnia and Scott Matlock have played meaningful snaps.

All that said, the Chargers defensive line was one of the worst in all of football last year. Head coach Jim Harbaugh‘s track record dictates that he demands excellence in the trenches. The Chargers are far from excellence. The Chargers will be investing in the position.

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Defensive Linemen For The Los Angeles Chargers In Free Agency

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Grover Stewart

There are a few things that are helpful to the Los Angeles Chargers. Grover Stewart is one of the league’s best run-stuffing defensive linemen. The Chargers D-line was Swiss cheese to most rushing games last season. He is also over 30 and coming off a season in which he served a suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy.

Why the latter two points are good news is he will be cheaper than he ought to be. They will have to operate on a shoestring budget in 2024. Grover isn’t a long-term option, but he will bridge the gap until they can get their financial house in order.

According to Over the Cap valuation model, Stewart’s valuation is just over $3 million.

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at San Francisco 49ers
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Javon Kinlaw

Javon Kinlaw was a first-round pick in 2020 but never lived up to that expectation in San Francisco. Perhaps a change of scenery and some time under Jim Harbaugh’s crack squad of trench builders is just what the 27-year-old needs to get there.

He would need to take a big step forward, but if any staff can it would be this one. That also means the Chargers can take a chance on him without breaking the bank.

Fletcher Cox

Fletcher Cox is also a bridge-the-gap option for the Chargers. At 33 years old, he is past his prime but proved to have plenty in the tank with 39 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, and 5.5 sacks. He could serve as a mentor to Matlock and Ogbonnia, as well as any drafted interior defensive linemen.

Cox would garner more than the rest on the list, but adding his experience and leadership to the Los Angeles Chargers defense would be priceless.

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Greg Gaines

Greg Gaines concluded his time with the Los Angeles Rams with two monster years, including one in which he was an integral part of their Super Bowl run. He joined Tampa Bay in free agency last year and his role was reduced, splitting time at nose tackle with Vita Vea.

If he returns to his LA form, he would bring a lot to the Los Angeles Chargers defensive front. He isn’t THE answer but would be one of several building blocks to get the defensive line up to snuff.