Los Angeles Chargers' 2019 free-agent signings: Thomas Davis bolsters defense

Veteran linebacker Thomas Davis has been signed by the Chargers to help the run defense. Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire

A breakdown of the Los Angeles Chargers' 2019 free-agent signings.

Thomas Davis, linebacker

The Chargers signed Carolina Panthers free agent linebacker Thomas Davis. Here’s a closer look at Davis:

What it means: The Chargers were looking to beef up a defense that allowed 155 rushing yards in a disappointing, AFC divisional round postseason loss to the Patriots, and Davis should fill that void. A three-time Pro Bowl selection, Davis is Carolina’s all-time leading tackler (1,094).

What’s the risk: Davis turns 36 years old later this month and has played through three ACL knee surgeries, so durability could be a concern. However, Davis did play in all 12 games last season after sitting out the first four games due to a four-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.


Adrian Phillips, safety

Phillips re-signed with the Chargers on a one-year deal over the weekend to stay with the team in free agency.

What it means: The Chargers keep an important utility player and special teams standout. Phillips can play all three linebacker positions, along with strong safety and free safety. He led the Chargers in special teams tackles with 19, and made the Pro Bowl as a special teams player.

What’s the risk: While tempting because of his versatility and intelligence, the Chargers have to figure out how to limit Phillips’ snap count so he’s most effective. Due to injuries at the linebacker position, Phillips played 638 defensive snaps in 2018.


Tyrod Taylor, quarterback

The Chargers agreed to terms with quarterback Taylor on a two-year deal on the opening day of free agency Wednesday.

What it means: Looking for competent backup behind the team’s franchise quarterback in Philip Rivers, the Chargers found one in Taylor, who played for head coach Anthony Lynn while in Buffalo. The 29-year-old Taylor is 23-21-1 as a starter, and gives the Chargers a mobile athlete and good decision maker under center who can move the chains on the rare occasion the durable Rivers misses time due to injury.

What’s the risk: There’s really little risk involving this move. However, the Chargers still need to find an eventual replacement to Rivers at quarterback. Taylor is a solid, experienced option and improves the talent in the quarterback room, but the Chargers still need to add a developmental signal-caller through the draft.


Brandon Mebane, nose tackle

Mebane stays with the Chargers, re-signing with the team on a two-year deal on the opening day of free agency.

What it means: Mebane served as a defensive co-captain during his three seasons with the Bolts, finishing with 91 combined tackles, two sacks and an interception in 38 games played. The Cal product gives the Chargers a run-stuffing presence inside on early downs.

What’s the risk: Mebane is 34 years old, so age and durability are concerns, along with him wearing down toward the end of the season. It will be important for the Chargers to beef up depth on the defensive line in order to keep Mebane’s snap count down.


Denzel Perryman, linebacker

The Chargers re-signed Perryman to a two-year deal on Saturday. Here’s a closer look at Perryman, a second-round draft pick by the Chargers in 2015:

What it means: The Chargers maintain continuity by retaining one of the team’s best run-stoppers along the front seven. Perryman started 35 of 42 games played, recording 226 combined tackles with four sacks, two interceptions and 18 tackles for loss.

What’s the risk: While effective, the University of Miami product has struggled to stay on the field. Perryman has missed 15 of a possible 57 games, finishing two of the past three seasons on injured reserve.