Wednesday, March 16, 2005 | With the hated Oakland Raiders making the coup of the offseason by landing wide receiver Randy Moss, the pressure has intensified on the San Diego Chargers to sign some impact free agents of their own. With a pass defense ranked 31st in the league last year and the prospect of facing a Raiders receiving corps of Randy Moss, Jerry Porter and Ronald Curry twice a year, the Chargers must take immediate steps to improve their defense.

Foley, a diamond in the rough

At 6 feet tall and 199 pounds, Jue will compete with safeties Terrence Kiel, Clinton Hart and Hanik Milligan for playing time next season. Returning starter safety Jerry Wilson also re-signed with the team on March 4, agreeing to a two-year contract. This apparent logjam should make for an interesting training camp competition in the secondary. If you believe that competition brings out the best in people (see Drew Brees), then the Chargers should be fine in the secondary this upcoming season. It will be interesting to see who emerges from this competition. Clinton Hart, who joined the team during the season last year, was widely regarded as an excellent safety when he played for the Philadelphia Eagles while perennial Pro Bowl safety Brian Dawkins was hurt during the 2003 season.

Potential for an excellent secondary

The Raiders are trying to go back to their glory days of the deep ball, but football is football and if the quarterback doesn’t have time, he can’t hit his receivers on those long, deep routes. I don’t know what general manager Smith has planned for this need, but hopefully he will address it and address it well during this offseason. Georgia defensive end David Pollack might be available when the Chargers pick in the first round at No. 28, and Pollack could bring an intensity to a defense already bolstered by the energy of Foley and Olshansky.

The Chargers settled their most talked about free agent decision by using their “franchise” designation on quarterback Drew Brees and signing him to a one-year, $8.5 million contract on March 4. Another noteworthy fact is the availability of wide receiver Plaxico Burress. The Chargers need a big play wide receiver, and at 6 foot 5 inches and 220 pounds, Burress is that guy. But are the Chargers afraid of ruining their great team chemistry by adding Burress? Is he another David Boston? It’s a tough call, but one which I feel Smith will handle correctly. Either way, I expect the Chargers to either sign Burress or draft a wide receiver with one of their first two picks in the first round. Smith proved last year that he knows how to identify football players who will contribute to this squad.

Troy Roble grew up in Tierrasanta and attended University High School as well as Scripps Ranch High School. He participated in three sports in high school – football, basketball and baseball. He graduated from the University of San Diego and currently is in the executive MBA program at the University of California, San Diego Rady School of Business. He also works as a general manager for Caldera Spas and Baths. He is a lifelong Chargers and Padres fan and an avid sports fan.

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