It’s a feel-good story that just keeps getting better.
After breaking out with a monster 2018 campaign in which the versatile safety earned Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors for his work on special teams, the Los Angeles Chargers announced on Friday that they agreed to terms with Adrian Phillips on a one-year deal.
One of the hardest working players on the team, it’s a deal “AP” deserves for many reasons.
After all, as General Manager Tom Telesco explained back in January, he called Phillips into his office to cut him a whopping eight times.
“We brought him to rookie minicamp on a tryout, not even to sign him,” Telesco recalled. “He looked good, but it wasn't like, 'Alright, we have to sign him right away.' We sent him home and then we signed him like four weeks later. He wins a job and then (over the years) I literally have released him eight times. Eight times, he came into my office to let him go. He always handled it professionally. He just kept working and working. To see a player finally earn a job on the 53 (man active roster), then earn a role, then earn a starting role, then be an excellent special teamer, then be a big part of our defense and go to the Pro Bowl — it's a story that you can tell other kids for years and years about what he's done. He was kind of the heart and soul of the defense, too.”
As Telesco alluded, Phillips first joined the Bolts as an undrafted free agent out of Texas in June of 2014. He eventually carved out a meaningful role over the last five seasons, totaling 197 tackles, 7.0 tackles for loss, 24 passes defensed and five interceptions while starting 19 of the 57 games he’s appeared in.
A do-it-all safety, AP plays virtually everywhere in Gus Bradley’s defense, including as a third-safety that’s basically an extra linebacker. Last season proved to be a breakout one for him as he set-career highs with 77 tackles, 5.0 tackles for loss and 12 passes defensed in 16 games with seven starts. He also recorded one pick and a forced fumble. However, it was his prowess on special teams that earned him national praise as he paced the NFL with a league-leading 19 special teams tackles.
Finally, AP started both playoff games, recording 12 tackles, three passes defensed, one interception and one fumble recovery. The 5-10, 210-pound Phillips became the first player since Atlanta Falcons cornerback Robert Alford in Super Bowl LI to have an interception and a fumble recovery in a postseason game, doing so in the Wild Card win over the Baltimore Ravens.