The next big thing: Chargers

San Diego Chargers general manager Tom Telesco and coach Mike McCoy will have to capitalize on the momentum built from the team’s surprising playoff run by continuing to improve this team through the draft and free agency in the offseason.

The Chargers have 12 unrestricted free agents scheduled to hit the market in March. Among them, retaining middle linebacker Donald Butler likely is the team’s top priority. However, key contributors like linebacker Reggie Walker, cornerback Richard Marshall, offensive lineman Chad Rinehart and special-teams captain Darrell Stuckey also make some sense to keep in the fold.

San Diego has seven picks in this year’s draft. Telesco indicated improving speed on both sides of the ball, pass-rush help and adding some juice to the team’s return game are priorities heading into this offseason.

The Chargers also need to get healthy, with edge rushers like Dwight Freeney (torn quad) and Larry English (torn pectoral muscle), along with receivers Malcom Floyd (neck) and Danario Alexander (knee) hoping to get back on the field in 2014. All four of those players finished 2013 on the injured reserve list.