Signing of CB Casey Hayward gives Chargers flexibility in secondary

SAN DIEGO – One of the things San Diego Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano values is flexibility, and he certainly got some with the signing of free-agent cornerback Casey Hayward.

Hayward played 598 snaps as a slot defender and 200 snaps on the perimeter with Green Bay last season, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Such versatility is important for San Diego considering Brandon Flowers is returning from a knee injury that sidelined him for the final four games of the season.

Hayward gives the Chargers some insurance should Flowers not return to offseason conditioning fully healthy. And the Chargers could now kick Flowers inside when they go to five defensive backs, where his ability to diagnose and play with anticipation were used more effectively last season.

The Chargers also signed Hayward to a three-year deal. So if Flowers does not play to his potential in 2016, the team could move on in 2017 and already have a younger replacement with a similar skill set on the roster.

The Chargers used at least five defensive backs 65 percent of the time in 2015, so Hayward, Flowers and Jason Verrett all should play a significant amount of snaps if they can stay healthy.

New defensive back Dwight Lowery lined up the majority of his defensive snaps last season with the Indianapolis Colts at free safety (581), so he appears to be a potential replacement for Eric Weddle -- although Adrian Phillips should be part of that competition as well, along with special-teams standout Darrell Stuckey.

Incumbent strong safety Jahleel Addae will be counted on to provide experience and familiarity for some of the new members of San Diego’s defensive backfield.

With Hayward, Flowers and Verrett, along with young corners like Craig Mager, Steve Williams, Greg Ducre and Richard Crawford already in the fold, you wonder if the Chargers are willing to commit big money to another defensive back at the top of the draft board in Florida State’s Jalen Ramsey, or would San Diego be better served selecting someone like Ohio State’s Joey Bosa at No. 3 to add more juice to the pass rush?