Four Players Los Angeles Charges Gave up on too Soon

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The LA Chargers have had a lot of great players wear their powder blue uniforms. Even though the Chargers are one of the few teams that have never won the Super Bowl, they have some of the best players in NFL history.

But there are other cases of great players who could have done so much more for the Bolts if the team hadn’t given up on them too soon. No general manager is perfect, and it’s silly to expect them to hit 1.000, but some names in history hurt to think about.

Let’s start with a more current example and then talk about the players that the Chargers definitely gave up on way too soon.

Adrian Phillips

In the past few years, there have been a few breakout players who made cheap deals with other teams. After having great careers in Los Angeles, linebackers Drue Tranquill and Kyzir White got cheap one-year deals with other teams in the last two years.

Adrian Phillips came before them, and he is a much more painful example than the two defenders. Phillips was an All-Pro player for the Chargers, and his ability on defense was certainly a plus. The Chargers did what, then? Let him sign for a very low price with the New England Patriots.

Everyone who liked the Chargers should have known that Phillips would be a great fit in New England. Bill Belichick is crazy about players like him, and Phillips has been great for the Patriots ever since he joined them in 2020.

Phillips would have been a great part of Brandon Staley’s defense in the secondary if he had stayed, but alas, it was not meant to be.

Rodney Harrison

The Chargers haven’t really done well with safeties, have they? The team did the right thing by giving Derwin James a new deal and not giving up on him too soon, which seems to be a trend. Before Phillips, the Chargers should not have given up on Rodney Harrison as soon as they did.

Harrison still played for the Chargers for a long, great time. Harrison was taken in the fifth round of the NFL Draft in 1994, but he had a much bigger effect on the Bolts than fans could have imagined at the time. He ended up playing for San Diego for nine years. Twice he made the Pro Bowl, and once he was named to the First Team All-Pro.

The Chargers chose to get rid of Harrison after the 2002 season, even though he was a fan favorite. He had just had a bad season and had been hurt in the past, so it seemed like the Chargers were trying to get ahead of the game.

Harrison left the Chargers and joined the New England Patriots. The best season of his career was on 2003. Harrison made All-Pro and came in fourth place in the vote for Defensive Player of the Year. The next season, he was named to the Second Team All-Pro.

Harrison went on to play for New England for another six years. Even at the end of his career, he was a very important veteran figure on defense. Tipped for greatness with New England, Harrison won two Super Bowl rings in those six years.

Speaking of Super Bowl, the odds for the next season Super Bowl odds has been up at bet on nfl games online for months. The defending champion, Kansas City Chiefs, are, however, the current leading favourites at +600.

Darren Sproles

Since 2000, the Chargers have had a lot of good running backs. LaDainian Tomlinson will never be beaten. He is one of the best running backs in NFL history and had the best season ever for a running back.

But even so, there has been ability. Darren Sproles came on late in Tomlinson’s career, and he won the game-winning touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts in the 2008 playoffs. Even though he wasn’t a back who played every play, Sproles had a lot to give the team.

But he didn’t do enough for the Chargers to pay him what he was worth. Despite going all out to get a new deal from the team, they instead, show him the exit door as a free agent in 2011. That’s when he signed a $14 million deal with the New Orleans Saints for four years.

Sproles went on to have a long career that made his time with the Chargers look like a short chapter. He would play for the New Orleans Saints for three years before moving on to the Philadelphia Eagles for another six. There, his work on special teams got him into the Pro Bowl three times.

Sproles could have helped the Chargers in the early 2010s if he had been a complementary back to Ryan Mathews. After Sproles went in 2011, Mathews was really good, but he never got back to that level.

Drew Brees

This is a really interesting way of thinking about things, which is why Drew Brees is the fourth player on this list. Brees had one of the best NFL careers outside of the Chargers, and he will definitely be in the Hall of Fame on the first vote. But it’s also not like the Chargers were stuck with a bad quarterback.

If the Chargers hadn’t given up on Brees, Philip Rivers would never have worn the powder blue. Rivers’ is a lot of fans’ all-time best player, and those fans probably wouldn’t have changed anything about what happened.

Additionally, it’s worth pondering the potential outcomes had Brees opted to remain with the Chargers, questioning whether he would have achieved similar levels of success or reached the same caliber as Rivers. Brees had the opportunity to showcase his skills under the guidance of one of football’s greatest offensive strategists, escaping the burden of repeatedly contending with an underperforming offensive line that plagued the team season after season.

We’ll never know the answer to that question, but at least we know that Brees had a better run than Rivers. Brees won a Super Bowl ring and beat Rivers in every throwing statistic ever made. Again, it’s not all Rivers’ fault, but any NFL fan who isn’t biased would say that Brees has had the better NFL record.

Even though it worked out for the Chargers in the end because Rivers was so good, it could have been different. In that case, the team’s choice to let Brees go because they were worried about his health would be called one of the worst mistakes in NFL history.

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