AFC West: Randy McMichael

Chargers cut Randy McMichael

March, 12, 2013
3/12/13
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In an expected move, the Chargers released tight end Randy McMichael.

A favorite of former coach Norv Turner, McMichael is a journeyman. He is 33 and he had just nine catches last season. He is release gave the Chargers a modest $1,5 salary-cap savings. The team is expected to cut defensive tackle Antonio Garay soon. His release will save the team another $5 million.

In other AFC West notes:

CBS Sports reports the Chiefs are interested in New Orleans backup Chase Daniel. The Missouri product has scouts intrigued and he’s expected to be sought after in free agency. He’d backup new quarterback Alex Smith in Kansas City.

The USA Today reports the Chargers’ medical staff has been cleared in the concussion case of former guard Kris Dielman.

In an Insider piece, here is a look at the Chiefs’ offseason needs.
Antonio GatesJody Gomez/US PresswireSan Diego veteran Antonio Gates remains one of the NFL's elite tight ends.
We are continuing our AFC West positional rankings with the tight ends. It’s a group that is great at the top and young and workmanlike after that. Here we go:

1. Antonio Gates, San Diego: Gates is getting older and health has been an issue. But he is still the class of this division.

2. Tony Moeaki, Kansas City: It will be interesting to see if Moeaki can quickly rebound from missing his second season with a torn ACL. He had a terrific rookie season. I think he has star potential.

3. Jacob Tamme, Denver: I went with Tamme over his teammate because Tamme already has a relationship with Peyton Manning from their Colts’ days.

4. Joel Dreessen, Denver: We will see a lot of Tamme and Dreessen. Both are professionals who are capable of making big plays.

5. Kevin Boss, Kansas City: Boss is best suited as a second option, and he is a good one. Moeaki-Boss is a nice combination.

6. Randy McMichael, San Diego: A gritty, hard-nosed veteran who the San Diego coaching staff loves.

7. Brandon Myers, Oakland: He’s a good player who is limited in the receiving game.

8. Julius Thomas, Denver: The Broncos love the potential of this former college basketball player. Injuries robbed him of most of his rookie season, but he showed preseason flashes.

9. David Ausberry, Oakland: A converted receiver who gets a chance to show what he can do for the Raiders at one of their most vulnerable positions.

10. Richard Gordon, Oakland: A blocker who will be given a chance to develop for the Raiders.

11. Ladarius Green, San Diego: Don’t expect much from this fourth-round pick right away, but I can see him being given an opportunity or two. The Chargers think he can be Gates’ eventual replacement.
The San Diego Chargers continued to get work done in free agency.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting that tight end Randy McMichael will remain with the Chargers, agreeing to a two-year deal.

McMichael, 32, had 30 catches in a reserve role with San Diego in 2011. McMichael has been with the Chargers for the past two seasons and is a favorite of the coaching staff.

In other AFC West news:

Oakland pass-rusher Trevor Scott signed with New England. Scott has big potential but has been slowed by injuries the past couple of years. I wouldn’t be shocked if he flourishes under Bill Belichick.

Another weapon of Peyton Manning’s weapons in Indianapolis is off the market. Receiver Anthony Gonzalez has signed with the Patriots.
The San Diego Chargers trip to the media capital of the sports world resulted in salacious comments and headlines.

Of course, it started last week when Jets coach Red Ryan – who thrives on making headlines – said he’d have a couple of Super Bowl rings had the Chargers hired him and not Norv Turner in 2007. Turner retuned a zinger of his own.

Then, the real fireworks started. The Chargers saw the Jets come back from a 21-10 deficit at halftime to win 27-21 and drop San Diego to 4-2, promoting the Chargers to get some national criticism in their spotlight game.

San Diego tight end Randy McMichael refused to credit the Jets for the win, saying the Chargers blew the game and it was all on them. Monday, Ryan had his usual witty retort for McMichael.

San Diego cornerback Quentin Jammer did his part to keep the headline writers happily in New York, by questioning the officials. San Diego was called for 13 penalties Sunday after not being penalized in their last game, a Week 5 win in Denver.

“No way it was called fairly,” Jammer told the New York Post. “No way. Not at all. It wasn’t called fairly at all. Maybe I’m being biased, but I’m just judging off what I saw. It wasn’t a fair game called."

Don’t be surprised if Jammer receives a fine from the NFL, which doesn’t take kindly to their officials being publicly criticized by players and coaches.

In the meantime, the Chargers need to put all the New York drama behind them and prepare to face host Kansas City in a big Monday night game next week. If the Chiefs win, there will be a three-way tie for first place in the AFC West between Kansas City, San Diego and Oakland. Now, that would be dramatic.

Antonio Gates inactive again

October, 9, 2011
10/09/11
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As expected, San Diego tight end Antonio Gates is inactive for the third straight game with a nagging foot injury. Randy McMichael will start for Gates at Denver on Sunday.

It’s been apparent for the past couple of weeks that Gates would likely rest through the Chargers’ bye. Barring a major lack of improvement, I’d expect Gates to be able to play Oct. 23 at the New York Jets.

For Denver, cornerback Champ Bailey is active and he is ready to play for the first time since Week1 when he suffered a hamstring injury. Veteran safety Brian Dawkins is also active. He was questionable with an ankle injury that kept him out of much of practice last week.

AFC West injury report

October, 7, 2011
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The San Diego Chargers got some good and bad news on the injury front Friday.

Tight end Antonio Gates, as expected, was listed as doubtful to play Sunday at Denver with a foot injury. He has missed the past two games. Gates, who has been replaced by Randy McMichael, is expected to try to come back after the Chargers’ Oct 16 bye. However, the Chargers got a dose of good news when receiver Vincent Jackson was listed as probable with a hamstring injury that he suffered last week. He practiced fully Friday after not practicing the first two days of the week. Cornerback Quentin Jammer (illness) practiced fully Friday after he didn’t practice Thursday. He is listed as probable.

In Denver, safety Brian Dawkins is questionable with an ankle injury. He was limited in practice Friday after he didn’t practice Wednesday and Thursday. Left cornerback Champ Bailey practiced fully all week and is expected to play after missing three games with a hamstring injury.

In Oakland, coach Hue Jackson ruled out defensive end Matt Shaughnessy, cornerback Chris Johnson and tight end Richard Gordon for Sunday’s game at Houston. Shaughnessy and Johnson were out last week. Fullback Marcel Reece is listed as questionable. He didn’t play last week and he didn’t practice all week. Jackson said the team could sign defensive lineman Trevor Pryce at a later date. They looked at Pryce, 36, this week to help with Shaughnessy out, but they decided against it at this time.

In Kansas City, 2011 first-round pick Jonathan Baldwin is listed as probable to play for the first time. He practiced all week after missing six weeks with a thumb injury he reportedly suffered in a fight with teammate Thomas Jones. Still, Kansas City coach Todd Haley told reporters Friday that he is not sure if Baldwin will be active at Indianapolis. If not, he should be ready to go after the team’s Oct. 16 bye.
San Diego tight end Antonio Gates missed practice again Wednesday with a nagging foot injury. He has missed the past two games with the injury. It would not be a surprise if Randy McMichael plays for Gates again Sunday at Denver.

The Chargers have their bye after the game and they may want to give Gates more time to rest.
  • Meawhile, San Diego receiver Vincent Jackson didn’t practice with a hamstring injury that caused him to leave Sunday’s win over Miami. While it is still early in the week, the Chargers are hopeful Jackson can play at Denver. Center Nick Hardwick did not practice Wednesday with a neck injury. He is expected to play at Denver. Cornerback Quentin Jammer was practicing fully after he missed Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury.
  • Denver's Champ Bailey practiced fully Wednesday. He looks like he is on pace to play against visiting San Diego on Sunday. Bailey has missed the past three games with a hamstring injury.
  • Denver rookie starting right tackle Orlando Franklin has been excused by the team to deal with a family matter. It is not known if Franklin will return to the team in time for Sunday’s game against San Diego.
  • San Diego coach Norv Turner had a fairly amusing answer when asked to respond to the prediction of Oakland coach Hue Jackson that the Raiders will win the AFC West this season.
  • The Raiders are hoping safety Michael Huff (concussion) and defensive end Matt Shaugnessy (shoulder) could play at Houston on Sunday. Neither player played in Week 4.

AFC West injury report

September, 30, 2011
9/30/11
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San Diego tight end Antonio Gates is not expected to play against Miami, because of a lingering foot injury that kept him out of six games last season and last week’s game. I could see San Diego holding Gates out until after its Oct. 16 bye. Gates will be replaced by veteran Randy McMichael.

Cornerback Quentin Jammer is also doubtful. He suffered a hamstring injury last week. Promising rookie Marcus Gilchrist is expected to play for Jammer against Miami on Sunday.

The battered Chargers listed starting receivers Vincent Jackson (abdomen) and Malcom Floyd (groin) as questionable. But they both practiced fully Friday, so that is a good sign they will play Sunday. Running back Ryan Mathews (foot) and rookie defensive end Corey Liuget (ankle) are both probable after they both practiced fully Friday.

The Denver Broncos do not know if they will have the services of two key defensive players Sunday at Green Bay.

Both cornerback Champ Bailey (hamstring) and defensive end Elvis Dumervil (shoulder) have been listed as questionable on the injury report. Neither has been on the field since Week 1, and both were limited all week in practice.

Denver’s defense -- which was ranked No. 32 last season -- is ranked No. 16 this season. Getting Bailey and Dumervil back should only improve the Broncos.

Running back Knowshon Moreno is listed as probable. He has missed the past two games with a hamstring injury. He’ll likely back up Willis McGahee on Sunday while he shakes off the rust.

In Oakland, safety Michael Huff (concussion), defensive end Matt Shaughnessy (shoulder) and fullback Marcel Reece (ankle) are all questionable to play against New England on Sunday. All three are key cogs for the Raiders. Cornerback Chris Johnson (hamstring) and receiver Louis Murphy (sports hernia) are out, as expected. Receiver Jacoby Ford (hamstring) is listed as questionable, but he is expected to play for the first time since Week 1.

There are several Oakland players listed as probable, but they are all expected to play.

In Kansas City, cornerback Brandon Flowers (ankle) and safety Jon McGraw (shin) are questionable to play against visiting Minnesota on Sunday. They were both limited all week in practice. Rookie first-round pick Jon Baldwin is out. He has been limited in practice the past two weeks. He suffered a thumb injury in a reported fight with teammate Thomas Jones six weeks ago. It seems like Baldwin will play at some point, but you have to wonder how long it will take him to catch up when he does hit the field.
When I requested statistics about the San Diego Chargers when they play without star tight end Antonio Gates, I didn’t expect the results I received.

Yes, Katharine Sharp of ESPN Stats & Information came up with some stunning numbers regarding the seven games Gates has missed since the start of the 2010 season.

The Chargers have actually been better without Gates.

I know, I know. Shocking.

Gates
I’m not going to say the Chargers will continue to be better without Gates. It’s absurd. He’s a favorite target of quarterback Philip Rivers, and Gates could someday end up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Yet, the Chargers are 6-1 in games that Gates has not played in since the beginning of last season. The Chargers are 5-7 in games Gates has played in since the start of last season. Now, as Sharp points out, six of those games were in the second half of last season when the Chargers are traditionally better than in the first half of the season.

Gates also missed the Chargers’ win over Kansas City in Week 3 with a nagging foot injury. The injury has been bugging him for years and it will likely continue to bother him. Whether Gates can play is a matter of pain tolerance. He saw a specialist Tuesday. Gates doesn’t expect to be out for the long term, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he shut it down through the team’s Oct. 16 bye. The Chargers play Miami and Denver before the bye. Giving it nearly a month of rest could help the foot for the stretch run of the season.

Regardless, the Chargers, statistically speaking, know they can live without Gates.

Since the start of 2010, the Chargers are averaging 25.3 points with Gates. They are averaging 28.9 points without him. Either way, that’s a lot of points. The Chargers are averaging more yards with Gates, who has been outstanding when healthy, than without him since the start of last season by an average of 21 yards per game.

The Chargers, naturally, rely on the running game more without Gates. They are averaging 126 yards per game without him and 102 with him.

What does all this mean? The Chargers have a lot of weapons, including backup tight end Randy McMichael. They can survive without Gates. Still, he’s a special talent and Chargers would certainly rather play with him than without him, regardless of what the numbers may say.
Random thoughts from the Chargers’ 20-7 win at Dallas on Sunday night:
  • I like the way Ryan Mathews ran the ball. Give him credit He ran hard and he is making strides after starting training camp slow because of poor conditioning. He was terrific on a 15-yard touchdown run. He had 35 yards rushing on seven carries.
  • Sixth-round pick Jordan Todman continues to look good. He had 27 yards on five carries, and he had a big play nullified by a penalty. He could be in the mix on third downs.
  • Philip Rivers and Vincent Jackson are ready to play Minnesota. The game is in three weeks. But this pass-catch combination is set. Rivers completed 8 of 11 passes for 92 yards. Jackson had three catches for 49 yards.
  • With starter Antonio Gates out as a precaution, veteran backup Randy McMichael showed he his value. He had three catches for 24 yards, including a nifty 7-yard touchdown catch.
  • San Diego head coach Norv Turner has said the key to not starting slow again is to avoid committing turnovers early in the season. Turner has to be pleased San Diego did not commit a turnover in this game.
  • Corey Liuget is going to make lot of plays. The No. 18 overall draft pick has been explosive and he has been beating his opponent routinely. Expect him to make his presence known as a starter at defensive end as a rookie. He had a sack
  • Backup defensive lineman Vaughn Martin is making strides. He had two sacks Sunday, He has been a long-term project and the former Canadian college player is starting to live up to his potential. Perhaps we’ll see him as a rotational player this season.
  • Overall, San Diego’s defense played strong for the second straight game. Dallas’ first-team offense did have one dominant drive. But this was a solid outing for Greg Manusky’s unit.
  • Starting receiver Malcom Floyd left the game with a concussion. He will be monitored. The NFL takes concussion treatment extremely serious. So, I wouldn’t be shocked if Floyd doesn’t play next week.
  • After an eight-tackle performance last week, rookie free-agent linebacker Darryl Gamble had two tackles Sunday.

Philip Rivers unplugged

August, 9, 2011
8/09/11
7:40
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SAN DIEGO -- I had a chance to catch up with San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers on Tuesday, and we discussed several topics.

Rivers
Rivers
Here is a sampling:

Rivers is excited about the prospect of playing with starting receivers Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd and tight end Antonio Gates. Last season, the three played together for a total of one quarter of a game. Jackson held out much of the season, and Gates and Floyd were hurt late in the season. In 2009, those three players combined for 192 catches for 3,100 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns catches.

That is a lot of missed opportunities for Rivers. However, he still passed for a career-high 4,710 yards in 2010.

Rivers said he is thrilled to have his top receivers back, but the good part about last season was that several other players showed they can contribute to the offense, including receiver Patrick Crayton and tight end Randy McMichael.

Add veteran free-agent pickup Laurent Robinson and rookie receiver Vincent Brown, and Rivers likes what he sees.

“We have a lot of weapons,” Rivers said. “I have so many different guys who I can count on. It’s really going to be exciting.”

Meanwhile, Rivers complimented second-year running back Ryan Mathews for his development in camp. Mathews has been maligned for not showing up to camp in prime shape, and he has continued to deal with nagging injuries. He likely will not play Thursday against Seattle as a precaution because of a minor leg injury.

However, Rivers said Mathews is making strides in all aspects of the game, including pass protection. Rivers said he believes Mathews will only improve as he takes more repetitions.

Rivers admits it didn’t break his heart to see star cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha leave Oakland and the AFC West to sign with Philadelphia. However, Rivers said he is impressed by Oakland cornerbacks Stanford Routt and Chris Johnson, who likely will replace Asomugha.

“Nnamdi is great, but Routt and Johnson can cover,” Rivers said. “Oakland had us covered as well as anyone in [Oakland’s 28-13 win at San Diego in December]. ... Those guys can play.”

Rivers also has been impressed by rookie free-agent quarterback Scott Tolzien. Rivers said he knew the first day he saw Tolzien that Tolzien is more than camp fodder.

“He’s a pro,” Rivers said. “You can tell the kid can handle himself.”

If the Wisconsin product has a good preseason, perhaps San Diego will add him on the active roster behind Rivers and Billy Volek.
The San Diego Chargers have been one of the most effective teams in the NFL the past two days. They continued their strong work by securing safety Eric Weddle for a record contract. Weddle was the Chargers’ top free-agency priority.

His agreement comes a day after the Chargers kept right tackle Jeromey Clary and tight end Randy McMichael and struck a deal with veteran inside linebacker Takeo Spikes. The team agreed to terms with veteran safety Bob Sanders prior to the lockout.

Weddle
The agreement with Weddle means San Diego’s defense has a chance to be very strong once again. It was ranked No. 1 in the NFL last year and Weddle was a big part of it. He is playmaker who is very smart and who offers strong leadership. The Football Outsiders think it is a smart move for the Chargers to keep Weddle.

He fits in well with Spikes and Sanders because of the way he plays the game. Some people around the league may be startled to see that he is now the highest-paid safety in NFL history after agreeing to a five-year, $40 million deal that includes $19 million in guaranteed money, but Weddle means a lot to San Diego.

He is a pillar in the community and he has never been in any trouble. He is a leader in the locker room as well. The Chargers have been reluctant to give star receiver Vincent Jackson an extension partly because of off-field concerns. Weddle never gave the Chargers any headaches and he was rewarded for it.

“The Chargers stepped up,” Weddle’s agent, David Canter, just told me. “I can’t say enough about that organization.”

Weddle had significant interest from seven teams, Canter said. Among the teams believed to be interested were the Jaguars, Browns, Vikings, Cowboys and Texans. Canter said he focused on getting a deal done with the Chargers Wednesday morning. Weddle, a Southern California native, didn’t want to play anywhere else.

Expect the Chargers to try to re-sign linebacker Kevin Burnett. However, players like receiver Malcom Floyd and running back/returner Darren Sproles may be on the way out. The Chargers didn’t make those players priorities.
Credit the San Diego Chargers for striking first in the AFC West when it comes to adding a big name from outside their organization.

They also get a very big neck.

[+] EnlargeSpikes
Michael Zagaris/Getty ImagesTakeo Spikes is heading to the San Diego Chargers.
San Diego agreed to terms with former San Francisco inside linebacker Takeo Spikes on Tuesday. He reunites with former San Francisco defensive coordinator Greg Manusky, who is now San Diego’s defensive coordinator.

Spikes highlights a busy first day for the Chargers, who clearly are bent on returning to the playoffs after they saw their four-year AFC West championship run end in 2010. In addition to agreeing to terms with Spikes, San Diego agreed to bring back right tackle Jeromey Clary and tight end Randy McMichael. They also agreed to terms with free-agent safety Bob Sanders prior to the lockout.

Spikes and Sanders bring terrific leadership to a defense that was No. 1 in the NFL last season. San Diego usually stays away from big-name free agents but they jumped at the chance to add Spikes on Tuesday.

“I think defensively you want to be as strong as you can be down the middle, and with Spikes and then Sanders, you’ve got two strong personalities that bring a real aggressive presence to the defense,” San Diego coach Norv Turner said in a statement released by the team.

The Chargers said the team called Spikes at 7 a.m. PT Tuesday. It was the first minute teams could reach out to players.

“He is an outstanding player. Takeo will bring his physical, aggressive style to our defense,” general manager A.J. Smith said. “I love his competitiveness and instincts. I believe he will be an immediate contributor. To me, this is another Randall Godfrey-type move for the Chargers.”

Spikes, 34, gives San Diego some clarity at inside linebacker. Stephen Cooper, Brandon Siler and Kevin Burnett are free agents. The team wants Burnett back. There was talk the Chargers would be interested in Green Bay’s Nick Barnett, who is expected to be set free soon. But the Spikes’ signing shows where the team’s priority was.

“It’s going to be great playing for Coach Manusky again,” Spikes said in a statement. “One of the intangibles that I bring is my leadership. Even though everybody is from different places across America, to me I feel like the great ones bring everybody together and believe in the same common goal, and that’s to win a championship. That’s why I’m in San Diego.”

The 14-year veteran had 109 tackles for the 49ers last season. Spikes, known for his strikingly large neck, will give San Diego a needed nasty demeanor. The Chargers were pushed around some on defense the past couple of seasons. Spikes and healthy Sanders should change that.

I could see the Chargers having some interest in another San Francisco defender, Manny Lawson, if the price is right. He is a solid outside linebacker.

Now, the Chargers need to lock up safety Eric Weddle and the free agency will be a strong one. Weddle will get interest elsewhere, though. Still, the Chargers view him as a priority.
There is still a long way to go before a new labor agreement is reached. But there appears to be progress between the owners and players.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted that the expectation is that any player with 4-6 years of experience with an expiring contract would become an unrestricted free agent. There are some interesting names in the AFC West that would be affected. ESPN Stats & Information prepared a free-agent primer. Listed below are key AFC West players who would be affected if Schefter’s expectation plays out:

QUARTERBACKS

6 or more seasons: Billy Volek

4 to 5 seasons: Brodie Croyle, Bruce Gradkowski

RUNNING BACKS

6 or more seasons: Darren Sproles

4 to 5 seasons: Laurence Maroney

WIDE RECEIVERS

4 to 5 seasons: Malcom Floyd

TIGHT ENDS

6 or more seasons: Randy McMichael

4 to 5 seasons: Zach Miller

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN

6 or more seasons: G Robert Gallery, T Langston Walker, C Casey Wiegmann

4 to 5 seasons: T Jeromey Clary, C Samson Satele

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

6 or more seasons: Jamal Williams

LINEBACKERS

6 or more seasons: Kevin Burnett, Mike Vrabel

CORNERBACKS

6 or more seasons: Nnamdi Asomugha

SAFETIES

4 to 5 seasons: Michael Huff, Eric Weddle

San Diego’s Vincent Jackson, Kansas City’s Tamba Hali and Oakland’s Kamerion Wimbley were given the franchise tag. Schefter expects the franchise tag to be part of a new deal. Wimbley has already signed his tender, while Jackson and Hali haven’t.

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