The Chargers had one of the worst linebacker groups in the NFL and ranked near the bottom against the run. There is some to blame on the interior defensive line, but the linebackers had a lot to do with that fact as well.>
Linebacker Denzel Perryman played well when healthy, but injuries kept him sidelined for a chunk of the season again. Meanwhile, his fellow LB Jatavis Brown took a significant step back as well. This put more pressure on Hayes Pullard, Kyle Emmanuel, and Korey Toomer. The trio just couldn't handle the number of snaps given, and it hurt Gus Bradley's defense against the run all season long.
Adding a sure tackler at linebacker position next to Perryman could solve a lot of issues along the front seven, and free agency will be an intriguing place to find one. Here is a look at five linebackers for Los Angeles to consider during 2018 NFL free agency.© USA TODAY USA TODAY
No. 1. Nigel Bradham | LB | Eagles
The Chargers will need to get more versatile in the middle of their defense. They will need linebackers who can not only fill gaps and tackle but can also hold up their end in pass coverage as well. Though Bradham isn't an elite run stopper, he's outstanding in coverage and the Bolts should be adding some more interior defensive line talent this offseason to help their rushing defense.
Bradham, 28, isn't the youngest linebacker set to hit the open market, but he is the most versatile and consistent, and would likely come on as a placement for LB Hayes Pullard or Korey Toomer. Over his two-year stint in Philadelphia, he has helped turn that defense into an elite unit that was able to defeat the Patriots in Super Bowl LII.
Bradham is an outstanding three-down backer who can do it all, but he makes his money with his coverage skills. From 2016-17, the former Florida State LB accumulated 190 tackles, three sacks, 15 passes defensed and one interception.© USA TODAY USA TODAY
No. 2. Demario Davis | LB | Jets
Jets Linebacker Demario Davis is coming off of an impressive season with the Jets, and he may be a solution to Los Angeles' problems at inside linebacker. The Jets surprised everybody by being competitive all year long and finishing 5-11. The emergence of Davis was a large reason for New York's relative success last season.
The 29-year-old ILB had played at a below-average level for the first five seasons of his career, but he emerged as a top linebacker in 2017. He was a fearsome run defender, and he held his own in pass coverage, which is more than you could say about any of the Chargers inside LB last season as they ranked near the bottom in run defense.
Davis started in every game for the Jets as he totaled 97 tackles (59 solo), one fumble recovery, and five sacks.© USA TODAY USA TODAY
No. 3. Anthony Hitchens | LB | Cowboys
Since being selected in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL draft, linebacker Anthony Hitchens has become a solid starter in the middle of the Cowboys defense. The fourth-year linebacker recorded comes in as Pro Football Focus' No. 20 LB overall.
At 6-foot and 235 pounds, Hitchens packs a punch when tackling and is a well-rounded player. The former Hawkeye recorded 84 tackles (55 solo) and one forced fumble in 12 starts in 2017.© USA TODAY USA TODAY
No. 4. Zach Brown | LB | Washington Redskins
Redskins LB Zach Brown is set to become an unrestricted free agent in 2018. Despite his success in Buffalo, Brown's turn to sign with a new team during free agency was longer than expected. Eventually, the University of North Carolina product signed with the Redskins, ending a nearly month-long search for his next home.
Brown made an impact on Washington's defense. In each of the first three games of the year, the 28-year-old ILB recorded at least 10 total tackles. In eight of his 13 outings, he recorded double-digit totals in tackles while leading the league in combined tackles for much of the season. While Brown didn't play in the Redskins' final three games due to lower-body injuries, he still finished No. 9 in the league with 127 tackles.
The Chargers could benefit from Brown's service as a six-year NFL veteran. He would provide Los Angeles with a run-plugging option, although Brown did struggle against the pass in 2017.© USA TODAY USA TODAY
No. 5. Preston Brown | LB | Buffalo Bills
While Bills LB Preston Brown put up good numbers during his four seasons in Buffalo, he is set to be a free agent this off-season. The Bills have not shown much desire recently to throw money at the LB position when their players hit the open market, given the fact that they let go of a former player, Zach Brown who is now playing for the Washington Redskins and this could be an option for the Chargers.
Brown is a high-collision linebacker that would mesh well with Gus Bradley's defense. He's a balanced player who is equally effective against the pass and run, and is still just 25 years old despite having four years of NFL experience under his belt.
The former third-round selection tallied up 144 tackles (84 solo) and three passes defensed in 2017.
Source : https://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/nfl/5-free-agent-linebackers-chargers-should-consider/ar-BBJ6hbj