Los Angeles Chargers coach Anthony Lynn likes players who have been there, done that. But over his past three seasons, there's been a slight shortage of guys on the Bolts' roster who fit that bill.
Despite the departure of veteran quarterback Philip Rivers and running back Melvin Gordon, the Chargers will still have plenty of veteran power next season -- thanks in large part to a free-agency period that saw Tom Telesco shift from a thrifty, draft-and-build general manager to one who was willing to shop and spend wisely.
"We had plans going into free agency to get certain things, and I liked how free agency went," Lynn said. "I thought we picked up some quality talent and just good players ... they bring a lot to the table intangible-wise, not just talent."
The Chargers missed on six-time Super Bowl champion quarterback Tom Brady, who signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but L.A. still managed to add plenty of Super Bowl experience by signing right tackle Bryan Bulaga, defensive tackle Linval Joseph and cornerback Chris Harris Jr.. That's a departure from recent years, as the Chargers sparingly signed veteran free agents such as Casey Hayward Jr. (2016), Russell Okung (2017), Mike Pouncey (2018) and Thomas Davis (2019).
"They can help bring other guys along that don't have that experience," Lynn said. "I like winners, and I like established guys."
All three additions have played at least nine seasons and earned a Super Bowl ring and are hungry to tip luck in the Chargers' favor in 2020.
"We played the Chargers last year, and they beat up on us pretty good," said Bulaga, referring to the Chargers' 26-11 victory over the Green Bay Packers, with whom he played nine seasons and won a Super Bowl following the 2010 season. "So I knew the type of roster that was in place in L.A., and I knew the type of guys they had and I knew the team was really talented."
Bulaga signed a three-year, $30 million contract, and Joseph and Harris both signed two-year deals worth up to $17 million each. All three deals are widely considered value contracts and leave the Chargers with more than $22 million remaining in salary-cap space, according to ESPN Roster Management.
Joseph, who turns 32 in October, joins the Chargers after playing six seasons with the Minnesota Vikings and four with the New York Giants, with whom he won a Super Bowl at the end of the 2011 season.
"They reached out with open arms and they wanted me, versus trying to lowball me or play around with me," said Joseph, who sensed his time in Minnesota was nearing an end last season when he lost playing time to younger players. "So that showed me that they wanted me and made me feel welcome."
"The main thing that they brought to me, they shared to me, was that they wanted to put me in there, put me back to doing -- playing all over the field like I know how," said Harris, who was named to the NFL's 2010s All-Decade Team after playing nine seasons with the Denver Broncos and winning Super Bowl 50. "A lot of the other teams -- they had probably about the same amount of money offered, but it wasn't going to allow me to do what I love to do."
Lynn said nothing has been finalized in terms of starting roles and likely won't be until the Bolts are deep into training camp.
But it's without question what Bulaga, who turned 31 last month, adds to the offense and Joseph and Harris add to the defense.
Bulaga's arrival will help reshape an offensive line that is in transition following a lackluster season. Bulaga is expecting to play right tackle, though Lynn has left open the possibility he could play on the left side following the departure of Okung, who the Chargers traded to the Carolina Panthers for right guard Trai Turner.
"We will figure out what the best combination is once we get all those guys on campus," Lynn said.
"I feel like I have those two guys, hopefully the quarterback will step up and I'll be able to get hands on him," said Joseph, who has 24 career sacks. "I'm going to work with these guys, and we're going to learn how to rush together and we're going to help each other out."
The addition of Harris, a four-time Pro Bowl selection, makes for a crowded secondary with cornerbacks Hayward and Desmond King. Lynn doesn't see that as a bad thing.
"You can never have enough good corners on your team," the coach said. "Playing against Chris Harris every year, he's a competitor, he likes to compete."
Harris is expected to play in the slot, while King could slide into more of a safety role.
"We've got a lot of potential,” Harris said. “We've got a lot of guys who have a lot of talent; now we've just got to put in the work."
Telesco’s offseason work, while off to a strong start, is not finished.
The Chargers have seven picks in the draft later this month, including the sixth overall selection, which many think they'll use to pick a new franchise quarterback.
But for now, the Chargers appear on the right path to contend in their division, if not the conference, with plenty of proven veterans to lead the way.