Offseason Forecast: San Diego Chargers

*With the offseason officially underway, Around The NFL will examine what's next for all 32 teams. The series continues with the San Diego Chargers. *

What's changing?

The Chargers are a bit of a feathered fish right now. Not good enough to be thought of as a Super Bowl contender and not bad enough to warrant a complete overhaul. The job of third-year general manager Tom Telesco is to identify the key areas that are holding this team back and get better in a hurry. Philip Rivers is an elite quarterback, but he's 33 and has taken a pounding in recent years. The window is closing, making this a hugely important next few months for the organization.

The Chargersaddressed their secondary on March 8 by retaining veteran corner Brandon Flowers. The two sides agreed to a four-year, $36 million deal, NFL Media's Albert Breer reported, per a source involved. The Chargers also agreed to terms on a four-year deal with offensive tackle King Dunlap on Feb. 20.

Biggest free agents

» RB Ryan Mathews: Durability continues to be an issue for Mathews, who missed 10 games with knee and ankle injuries. Hard to imagine why the Chargers would want to stay in business with the frustrating former first-round pick.

Other key free agents: LB Dwight Freeney, WR Eddie Royal, S Marcus Gilchrist.

On the way out?

» RB Donald Brown: "Dammit, Donald!" Brown was a free agency misfire after averaging 2.6 yards per carry in 13 games. Telesco says Brown is coming back in 2015, but we're not convinced.

» G Chad Rinehart: Rinehart was a middle-of-the-pack guard before the season. He signed a two-year deal last March and took a huge step back, grading out on Pro Football Focus as the sixth-worst guard in the NFL.

What they need

Chargers receivers averaged just 5.1 yards after the catch in 2015, ranking them 20th in the NFL, according to ESPN. Keenan Allen -- who took a step back in his second season -- could use an outside receiver who can stretch defenses and open up the middle of the field. We're not sure what happened to "Making The Leap" candidate Ladarius Green, but the Chargers should take a closer look at working the athletic tight end into the offense. Antonio Gates isn't going to make plays forever (we don't think).

It's time to move on from Mathews and bring in a running back who will take the pressure of Rivers the way the Cowboys did with fellow thirty-something passer Tony Romo this season. Speaking of which, DeMarco Murray could hit the open market. He'd be a tremendous addition. Another tantalizing potential option? Adrian Peterson.

The offensive line needs reinforcements, starting with finding a replacement for Nick Hardwick, who retired. An edge pass rusher would help, too, especially if they let Freeney walk. Only three teams had less sacks than the Chargers last season.

Offseason crystal ball

The Chargers have a quarterback in Rivers who could end up in Canton one day. It'd be a shame if they waste the back end of his prime with a series of 8-8 and 9-7 finishes. There's a rich free-agent market for offensive skill players and San Diego has the salary cap room to get aggressive.

We expect the Chargers to use free agency to build their skill positions and the draft to supplement their offensive line. Keeping Dunlap was a must. Flowers should be a priority re-signing in the secondary, and another veteran could be added to beef up the cornerback position.

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