Despite price tag, Chargers should keep Travis Benjamin

COSTA MESA, Calif. -- With less than two weeks before the NFL scouting combine and less than a month before the start of free agency, the Los Angeles Chargers have completed their self-scouting of last season's team and are in the midst of preparing for 2018.

That means getting ready for this year’s draft and free agency. The Chargers' coaching staff and personnel department will get an up-close look at the lion’s share of 2018 draft prospects in Indianapolis in two weeks. You can check out the invite list here.

The Chargers also will begin preliminary discussions with representatives of their own pending free agents and others around the league in Indianapolis, judging how much it will take to secure their services and gauging potential interest.

Now, let’s get to a couple more questions from this week’s mailbag:

@eric_d_williams: If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.

That would be my approach with the Chargers' wide-receivers group.

Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin were all productive last season. Williams is a restricted free agent and should remain in Los Angeles.

Allen is under contract for two more seasons. Benjamin is scheduled to make $5.75 million in the third year of a four-year deal. I know some feel Benjamin might be too costly compared to his production; ESPN’s Bill Barnwell, for example, suggests Benjamin take a pay cut.

I’m not one of those people.

Benjamin has nine touchdowns since he joined the Chargers for the 2016 season, and he creates opportunities for other players. Because of his speed, opponents have to account for Benjamin at the back end defensively, and that allows for players such as Allen, Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry to work the intermediate area of a defense.

Benjamin is a great weapon for Philip Rivers to have at his disposal, both as a vertical threat and a perimeter runner on reverses, and the 28-year-old showed improvement last season as a punt returner.

Yes, Benjamin has made some errors in judgement and tends to run out of bounds because of his thin frame.

However, the Miami product is a playmaker who knows offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt’s system and his role in it. For a team that wants to make a deep playoff run in 2018, it makes sense to keep Benjamin around for another season despite the price tag. Benjamin’s $5.75 million in salary puts him No. 29 in receiver salary for 2018; the Chargers could live with that. Three years ago, the Chargers paid Donald Brown $3 million to serve as a scout-team running back.

@eric_d_williams: Focusing on signing their own coveted free agents and zeroing in one major target in free agency has been the plan for the Chargers under general manager Tom Telesco.

Last year, the Chargers re-signed defensive end Melvin Ingram, safety Jahleel Addae, defensive tackle Damion Square and reserve quarterback Kellen Clemens, then targeted left tackle Russell Okung in free agency.

Expect the Chargers to take a similar approach next month, focusing on retaining the likes of Gates, Tre Boston, Kenny Wiggins and Williams, while targeting outside free agents in areas of need such as kicker, defensive line and linebacker.

The Chargers have about $24 million in cap space, so they should be able to make some moves to improve the team.