COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — The Los Angeles Chargers didn’t have many glaring offseason needs but upgrading the linebacking unit was at the top of the list.
They took a step toward doing that Wednesday as the NFL’s free agency period began, signing Thomas Davis to a two-year contact. The team also signed quarterback Tyrod Taylor and re-signed defensive tackle Brandon Mebane to two-year deals.
Davis comes to the Chargers after spending his entire 14-year career with Carolina, where he was the Panthers‘ career leader in tackles (1,077). He will enter the season second among active NFL players in tackles.
Davis finished second last season with 79 tackles in 12 games. He missed the first four games while under suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing supplements.
Davis’ addition gives the Chargers experience and an effective run stopper. Denzel Perryman, Jatavis Brown and Kyzir White combined to start 25 games but ended up on injured reserve. Perryman, who led the team in tackles at the time of his injury, was the team’s most effective run stopper the first half of the season. He was due to become a free agent but re-signed with the team on March 9.
The Chargers struggled to stop the run late last season. They contained Baltimore in the AFC wild-card round by going with eight defensive backs but allowed 155 yards in a loss to New England in the divisional round.
Taylor gives the Chargers an experienced backup to Rivers, who has started 208 consecutive games and is tied with Peyton Manning for the third-longest streak in NFL history by a QB.
Taylor has started 46 games during his eight-year career with Baltimore, Buffalo and Cleveland. He started the first three games last season for the Browns before suffering a concussion and back injury against the New York Jets. Taylor was not able to regain his starting job after the emergence of Baker Mayfield.
The signing reunites Taylor with Chargers coach Anthony Lynn, who was a Buffalo assistant for three seasons and the offensive coordinator in 2016. Los Angeles also still has Cardale Jones on the roster.
Mebane, who will be going into his 13th NFL season and fourth with the Chargers, started 12 games last season and had 53 tackles, three tackles for loss and one sack. He missed four games to help care for his newborn daughter, who died at seven weeks due to a defective heart condition.
His 57 tackles for loss are the highest among active nose tackles.