NFL free agency is off and running, and we're keeping track of every major signing, trade and release of the 2020 offseason, with analysis from our NFL Nation reporters and grades from Bill Barnwell. The new league year March 18, which means free-agent signings can be made official after that. The first round of the 2020 NFL draft begins April 23.
Nick Vigil, linebacker
What it means: The Chargers added much-needed depth at linebacker following the release of Thomas Davis and Jatavis Brown's departure in free agency. Vigil is a four-year pro who had 111 tackles, an interception, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble last season for the Bengals.
What's the risk: Vigil's addition is a low-risk move for a Chargers' defense in need of linebackers, especially given he's playing on a one-year deal. A third-round pick in 2016, Vigil demonstrated steady improvement in Cincinnati as he worked his way to a full-time starter.
Chris Harris Jr., CB
The Chargers added the veteran corner from the Denver Broncos.
What it means: Harris' decision to join the Chargers puts them in contention to boast one of the top secondaries in the NFL next season. A four-time Pro Bowl selection, Harris joins cornerbacks Casey Hayward and Desmond King and safeties Derwin James, Adrian Phillips and Rayshawn Jenkins. Last season, Harris had six pass deflections, an interception and a forced fumble.
What's the risk: Harris has long maintained his status among the top cornerbacks in the league after quickly establishing himself as a playmaker in Denver, where he signed as an undrafted free agent. Even at 31-years-old, this is a low-risk move for the Chargers given Harris has shown no signs of slowing.
Linval Joseph, DT
The Chargers agreed to deal with former Vikings defensive tackle Linval Joseph. The NFL Network reports it's a two-year deal worth $17 million.
What it means:In a move to create salary cap space, the Vikings released Joseph in the days leading up to free agency. The 10-year NFL veteran fills a gaping hole on the interior of the defensive line following the Chargers' decision to release veteran tackle Brandon Mebane in a cap space-saving move. Last season, Joseph had six quarterback hits, three tackles for a loss and a forced fumble.
What's the risk:There could be some concern about Joseph's durability as he enters his 11th season. He saw a dropoff in playing time last season, starting 13 games, because of injuries, including a surgery to repair his meniscus, as the Vikings began to turn more to younger players.
Bryan Bulaga, OT
The Chargers bolstered their offensive line by signing Bulaga, a former Green Bay Packer, to a three-year deal.
What it means:As the Chargers prepare for a new era post-Philip Rivers, they're investing in their offensive line and Bulaga immediately will provide stability in a position group that otherwise struggled last season. Bulaga will now line up with five-time Pro Bowl guard Trai Turner, who brythe Chargers acquired from the Panthers in exchange for left tackle Russell Okung. Last season, Bulaga had a pass-block win rate of 92 percent, according to ESPN metrics powered by NFL Next Gen Stats.
What's the risk: Bulaga has dealt with several injuries throughout his career, and only twice in 10 seasons has he been available to start all 16 games. However, Bulaga, who turns 31 this month, started all 16 last season and showed no signs of slowing.
Franchise tag salary: $11.1 million
Career highlights: Tight end Hunter Henry produced single-season career-highs in 2019 with 55 receptions and 652 receiving yards. In three seasons, he ranks among the top 10 in Chargers' history in receptions (136), yards (1,709) and touchdown catches (17).
Why he was tagged: Chargers general manager Tom Telesco emphasized at the NFL scouting combine the importance of retaining Henry, who has developed into a promising replacement for future Hall of Fame tight end Antonio Gates. Unable to come to terms on a long-term deal, using the tag ensures that Henry will not reach free agency when the new league year starts on Wednesday and that the Chargers can continue to negotiate a long-term deal with him.
What he brings: Despite dealing with a series of injuries, including a knee injury that sidelined him for the entire 2018 season, Henry has proven himself as a valuable playmaker. He is considered a threat as a run-blocker and a pass-catcher. His skill set and ensured future with the Chargers also could help entice a prospective quarterback as the Chargers remain in the hunt for a Philip Rivers replacement.