The Chargers retooled their roster this past spring, bringing in more than a dozen free agents to add depth and experience to the squad.
More than nine months later, those additions have paid off big to help the Bolts reach the playoffs.
As the Chargers get set for a Wild Card round matchup against the Jaguars, Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley lauded the impact those players have made.
"You follow the examples of others that are really impactful," Staley said. "That is why we were really intentional about onboarding the veteran players that we've been able to onboard … so that they could provide that leadership to the younger guys.
"I think that we have a team that is full of really, really quality experiences, and it has been really fun to watch this group take shape together to carve its own path here with the Chargers," Staley added. "We get a big opportunity on Saturday to really make our mark."
Here are nine free agents from the 2022 offseason that paid off big for the Bolts:
Yes, we're starting with the punter. There's a reason the Chargers finished first in the NFL in total punt return yards allowed. The Bolts gave up just 58 punt return yards on 19 attempts all season (3.1 yards per return), with Scott's impressive hangtime playing a key role in that. After playing in just one game in 2021, Scott has rebounded with perhaps the best season of his career.
The addition of Harris might have flown under the radar this spring. He spent the first 10 seasons of his career in Atlanta and earned Pro-Bowl honors a year ago before joining the Bolts. He's been invaluable by leading special teams meetings and is among the few players to have appeared in a Super Bowl. That experience will be crucial beginning Saturday night.
Reeder is another player who brings a steady, veteran presence to the roster. He's not going to make any flashy plays, but he's versatile and can line up on every phase in special teams. Plus, Reeder just won a Super Bowl with the Rams, so he knows what it takes to be successful this time of year.
Carter has seemingly done it all for the Chargers this season. Among players with at least 20 punt returns this season, he ranked second with a return average of 11.7 yards. He also was an unheralded piece on offense, setting career highs in receptions (46) and yards (538) while tying his career-best with three touchdown catches. Keep an eye on Carter to pick up hidden yards in the postseason.
Everett also produced the best season of his career with 58 catches for 555 yards and tied his single-season best of four touchdowns. But he's gotten hot at the right time as he caught touchdowns in back-to-back games to end the regular season. Everett could be a sneaky player to watch in the red zone Saturday, and he has improved as a blocker in the run game, too.
It was Callahan who led the Bolts with three interceptions this season. He also scored the lone defensive touchdown with a pick returned for a score against the Raiders. Off the field, however, the 31-year-old knows the defensive scheme inside and out and has been a mentor to a handful of younger players in the secondary.
Joseph-Day didn't waste any time making an impact on the Bolts as he was named a team captain only a few months after arriving from the Rams. The defensive tackle has postseason experience, too, and is looked at as a leader who will always hold himself and his teammates to the highest standard.
Kyle Van Noy
A two-time Super Bowl champion, Van Noy was brought in because of his leadership and championship pedigree. Both have shown up this season. On the field, he's had to play multiple spots and finished the season on a five-game sack streak. Off of it, he's led player-only meetings and is among the most respected voices in the locker room.
The Bolts have endured plenty of losses along the defensive line, but Fox's presence helped stabilize that group. He has held his own as a run defender but really flashed in the passing game, notching a career-best 6.5 sacks while playing in all 17 games. Fox isn't the flashiest player on the field but is one who will rarely get outworked.
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