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The Curious Case of Ladarius Green

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Entering the fourth and final year of his rookie contract, TE Ladarius Green needed to show the Bolts’ brass he was a player to build around. Instead, he remains just as much a mystery as ever.

Getting six starts this season with Antonio Gates suspended for the first four weeks, Green had a shot to differentiate himself. He has made his presence felt where it matters most -in the end zone — as his four touchdown receptions are tied for fifth-most amongst all tight ends. However, most of his other stats are pedestrian at best. Green’s 27 receptions rank fifth on the team (even under Stevie Johnson) and 20th among all tight ends. At no point in his NFL career (including preseason) has Green caught more than five passes in a game.

Green’s 11.6 yards per catch is the lowest of his career, dropping from 11.9 last year and from an incredible 22.1 in 2013. And he averages only 44.9 yards per game — 70 players average more.

While it’s debatable if the additional playing time has increased Green’s production, it has resulted in additional injuries. Green has already missed two games (and most of a third) due to an ankle injury and two concussions suffered in September, making it three concussions in a nine-month span.

Despite his average production and penchant for showing up on the injury report, Pro Football Focus still has him graded as the 10th best tight end in the league with a 76.8 overall grade. Still, by their own scale, this would put Green squarely in the “starter” range (70-84) as opposed to “Pro Bowler” or “elite” player.

With so much uncertainly surrounding the Chargers after this season, especially at the tight end position, it would have been ideal for Green to take hold of his opportunity and become Gates’ clear heir apparent. And while Green’s touchdown production has been nice, he has not been able to produce on the field or stay healthy with much consistency.

Ultimately, Green’s physical potential and youth will need to be weighed with his lack of experience, injury history and otherwise middling production — no small task for GM Tom Telesco and company.

So, what should the Chargers do with their mystery tight end?

Naturally, the best case scenario for the Chargers would be to re-sign Green to a team-friendly, incentive-laden deal. That way, Green can continue to prove himself without putting the Chargers in as much financial risk. This is highly unlikely.

Green’s combination of size (6’6″, 240 lbs.) and speed (4.45-second 40) puts him in Megatron territory in terms of pure size and athleticism. These numbers alone will likely fetch Green an inflated deal, even if his numbers don’t improve.

The Chargers could franchise Green, I suppose, and see what happens in 2016. However, tagging Green will cost the Bolts close to $10 million, a huge investment in a player that has seven career touchdowns and less than 1,000 receiving yards to his name. Telesco has yet to tag anyone in his three-year tenure.

The Chargers could just sign Green to a big-time, long-term contract, but this would put the front office in precarious waters. Thus far,Telesco has not done a great job of re-signing draft picks based on potential.

Last offseason, Telesco re-signed Corey Liuget based more on potential than production in hopes that he would continue to improve. So far, Liuget has been what he has always been, a solid but not spectacular defensive lineman. And let us not forget Donald Butler, who will “earn” $17.73 million for his terrible play before he can be cut after next year.

But with Gates in the final year of his contract and Malcom Floyd set to retire after this season, the 2016 offense is already looking paper thin. Keenan Allen will be back, but will be coming off a lacerated kidney. Stevie Johnson is under contract, too, but may not be worth the $3.9 million cap hit (per spotrac.com). Philip Rivers will need someone besides Danny Woodhead to throw to, right?

The Chargers could bring back Gates, 35, and absolutely should if the price is right. But he is finally showing some of the wear of his 13-year career. Re-signing Gates at this point would be a one- or two-year bandage at best and the Chargers would still have to find another younger alternative at tight end.

With the potential free agent options at tight end looking spectacularly average and the Chargers struggling to score points with the receivers they have, Telesco may have no choice but to bite the bullet and re-sign another player based more on flashes than functionality.


What are your thoughts on Ladarius Green’s performance so far? Discuss in our message boards!


A San Diego native, Trenton Villanueva graduated from San Diego State University with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and a minor in the hydraulic principles of the keg. Prior to writing for SDBR, he covered sports news for FanSided and wrote music reviews for the San Diego State Daily Aztec. Follow him on Twitter @TrentNotDilfer

About Trenton Villanueva

A San Diego native, Trenton Villanueva graduated from San Diego State University with a bachelor's degree in Journalism and a minor in the hydraulic principles of the keg. Prior to writing for SDBR, he covered sports news for FanSided and wrote music reviews for the San Diego State Daily Aztec.

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