The Los Angeles Chargers have made some impressive moves so far during the free agency period.
Quarterback Justin Herbert can look forward to the added protection from incoming center Corey Linsley, who was PFF's highest-rated center (89.8) while blocking ahead of NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay last season.
Former New Orleans Saints tight end Jared Cook is a capable replacement for the departed Hunter Henry. The veteran's hands have let him down at times, but he's still an above-average blocker and is capable of making big plays downfield.
Guards Matt Fieler, Oday Aboushi and kicker Tristan Vizcaino complete the list of new faces at the Chargers for the time being. Alongside Linsley, Fieler and Aboushi should add some much-needed strength to the NFL's worst offensive line (ranked 32nd by PFF).
But with many quality free agents still available, who else can the Chargers sign to help them ascend to the top of the AFC West and get themselves back into the playoff picture?
What positions do the Chargers still need to upgrade on the roster?
As mentioned, the key upgrades the Chargers needed to make during the offseason were at center and guard, and the team has addressed both in free agency.
Other positions that head coach Brandon Staley will be looking to improve are wide receiver, running back, linebacker, defensive end and cornerback. The team would also be better served by adding another offensive lineman to the roster.
With that in mind, here are the top 5 free agents still available for the Los Angeles Chargers.
NFL Free Agency: Top 5 free agents available for the Los Angeles Chargers
#1 - Le'Veon Bell, RB
Le'Veon Bell's 2020 campaign didn't go as he would have envisioned. The former Pittsburgh Steelers running back spent the first half of the season with the New York Jets but mutually parted ways with the team midway through the campaign.
A move to the Kansas City Chiefs in mid-October sent seismic waves through the NFL, but coach Andy Reid clearly didn't fancy Bell's skill set or persona. Bell made minimal impact during his time with the team and has been a free agent since the Super Bowl.
Despite two turbulent seasons, there's no disputing that a fit and firing Bell is still an elite talent to have in the backfield. In his nine years in the NFL, Bell has tallied 9,712 yards from scrimmage and 49 TDs.
The Chargers already have an elite RB in Austin Ekeler, but he spent much of last year on the injured reserves list. Signing a capable backup should be a priority for the team.
With Justin Herbert, the new-look O-line and Ekeler along with the addition of Bell to the backfield, the Chargers' offense could certainly be much more potent than it was in 2020.
#2 - Olivier Vernon, DE
Melvin Ingram's decision to sit out of multiple practice sessions last August in a bid to capture a better contract didn't exactly play out as he may have expected. He injured (and then reinjured) his knee and spent most of the year on IR. Ingram is now a free agent, will likely not sign a new deal with the Chargers.
The Chargers need a replacement who can match Ingram's efficiency on pass rush duties, and Olivier Vernon is certainly the best available option.
The former Cleveland Browns star recorded nine sacks in the 2020 NFL season. Vernon played linebacker with the Giants before his move to Cleveland, where he played as a defensive end. The veteran has proven himself to be a versatile player who can be a destructive force in either position. Vernon is in some pretty elite company when it comes to breaking across the line and putting pressure on the opposition QB.
He is still recovering from a torn Achilles, but many around the NFL feel he'll return to his dominant best in 2021 and perhaps in blue and yellow.
#3 - Antonio Brown, WR
Antonio Brown is the best receiver left in free agency. The four-time All-Pro was only added to the Buccaneers' roster midway through the 2020 season but still notched up 483 yards and four TDs. In fact, in the final nine games that Brown appeared in last year, PFF ranked him seventh among all wide receivers, awarding the player a receiving grade of 86. Brown also chipped in with a crucial TD in the Buccaneers' Super Bowl win over the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Chargers still have the superb Keenan Allen on the books for next season, and Mike Williams will always be a problem for opposing teams due to his size and power. Antonio Brown's addition would give Herbert another reliable option in the passing game.
Brown will likely re-sign with the Buccaneers, but adding another receiver to the roster is a must for the Chargers. If not in free agency, expect coach Staley to pick a receiver in the first two rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft.
#4 - Mitchell Schwartz, OT
Rumors suggest that former Kansas City Chiefs OT Mitchell Schwartz may opt to retire during the offseason.
Schwartz has arguably been the best right tackle in the NFL over the past several campaigns and was a key fixture in the Chiefs' Super-Bowl winning team. The veteran is still recuperating from a serious knee injury and is scheduled to have back surgery during the offseason. If he does opt to continue for another season, the Chargers could do a lot worse than adding an old AFC West foe to their roster.
#5 - Richard Sherman, CB
Derwin James' return at safety should help shore up a Chargers coverage that struggled at times last year. James missed the entirety of the 2020 campaign after injuring himself during pre-season.
Casey Hayward didn't have his best year in 2020 either. The veteran cornerback's play was riddled with inconsistency. Hayward allowed fewer than 25 yards in seven of the 14 games he appeared in, but also gave up the fourth-most receptions of 25 or more yards, according to PFF.
Richard Sherman might not have the pace to be considered an elite corner anymore, but his leadership, ability to read the game and seasoned skillset would make him a viable option for most NFL teams during the offseason.
Plus, Sherman hails from Compton, Los Angeles, so a return home should entice the cornerback.
The Chargers better act quicker, though, as rumors have it that Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks are interested in bringing the veteran back to the team.