The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — Since the disappointing end to last season, Los Angeles Chargers general manager Tom Telesco and coach Brandon Staley have discussed upgrading a defense that didn’t live up to expectations.
The Bolts are taking that first step by adding another premier pass rusher to pair with Joey Bosa.
The Chargers agreed to acquire defensive end Khalil Mack from the Chicago Bears in exchange for two draft picks, two people familiar with the negotiations confirmed to The Associated Press on Thursday. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the trade can’t become official until the start of the new league year on Wednesday.
The Chargers are expected to send a second-round pick this year and a 2023 sixth-round selection to the Bears for the three-time All-Pro defender.
Staley said during last week’s NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis that the defensive line and secondary were going to be areas of emphasis during free agency and the draft.
Los Angeles, 9-8 last season, got off to a 4-1 start but missed the playoffs for the third straight season, winning back-to-back games only once after Week 5, and losing three of the final four games.
A big reason for the Chargers’ struggles down the stretch was their defense. Staley brought in an attacking 3-4 scheme that made the the Rams the top-ranked unit in 2020, but he didn’t get the same results with the Chargers, who were 23rd in total defense and third worst against the run.
The Chargers allowed 269 points after halftime, tied with the 2015 New Orleans Saints for most since 1991. The 138.9 yards per game allowed on the ground was the worst by a Chargers defense since 2003.
Offenses converted 49.5% of their third-down opportunities, the third-highest rate since 1991.
Bosa had 10.5 sacks in making the Pro Bowl for the fourth time in his six-year career. But Los Angeles was tied for 20th with 35 sacks and in the middle of the league rankings with 21 takeaways.
“I overestimated where we may be with that because I love the scheme, I love the system and I love the coaching staff. We have a lot of work to do,” Telesco said about the unit at the end of last season.
The move will reunite Staley with Mack. Staley was Mack’s linebacker coach when the Bears acquired Mack from the Raiders during the 2018 preseason.
BUFFALO, N.Y. — In a sign the Buffalo Bills are closing in on a stadium deal, the team hired Populous architectural firm to draw up designs for its proposed new facility, a person familiar with discussions confirmed to The Associated Press on Thursday.
The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Bills and their parent company, Pegula Sports and Entertainment, have not announced the decision. The Athletic first reported the news earlier in the day.
The move comes as the team is in negotiations with the state and county to reach an agreement that would commit hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer funds to build a stadium across from the Bills’ existing facility in Buffalo’s suburb of Orchard Park. A state study estimated the proposed open-air, 60,000-plus seat stadium would cost $1.354 billion.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Titans have gone from trying to modernize Nissan Stadium to working on plans for a new stadium right next door after renovation costs more than doubled to $1.2 billion.
Burke Nihill, the Titans’ president, discussed the team’s plans Thursday at a Metro Sports Authority board meeting, according to The Tennessean. The Titans currently are working with Metro Nashville officials on the design and costs of building a new stadium on Nissan’s parking lots between the stadium and Interstate 24.