Jahleel Addae has come a long way since he made his way onto the Chargers roster as an undrafted free agent out of Central Michigan in 2013. After making a name for himself on special teams, Addae quickly established himself as the hard-hitting strong safety the secondary has been lacking since Rodney Harrison. Despite missing more than half of last season with a broken collarbone, General Manager Tom Telesco inked Addae to a four-year, $22 million contract ($8 million guaranteed) in March prior to the NFL Draft. MP Reporter Art Garcia Jr. caught up with Addae to ask him few question following the team’s last practice in San Diego.
Art Garcia Jr.: The franchise really upgraded the secondary over the offseason, how are things looking out there so far?
Jahleel Addae: Good, man. It’s been a good offseason for us and it’s a great start to the new year. We have a lot of competing going on — a lot of communication and work getting done — a lot of new stuff where we have really gelled since the last time we were on the field.
AG: Aside from the team, you had a pretty good offseason yourself. Were you surprised the team offered you that big money contract?
JA: I wouldn’t say I was surprised… it’s always what I thought about myself, I just had to prove it to those who didn’t believe in me or what not. I mean, it’s a blessing but it doesn’t stop there, that’s just more motivation (to prove myself).
AG: Having signed that contract, did you train any different over the offseason, or did you stick to the same regimen that got you this far in your professional career?
JA: No, I’ve stayed with my guy down in Tampa, Fla., where I do a lot of beach work — the beach work takes a lot of pounding off my legs. So I’m going back out there this week to start the program again over the next six weeks.
AG: With this being the last practice in San Diego, what are your thoughts about moving to Los Angeles?
JA: It’s an opportunity. I’m thankful for San Diego for the past five years I’ve been here. They were the first organization to take me in and give me the opportunity to become the player I am today. So we’re excited for L.A, excited for our families and we’re excited to make our presence up there.
AG: It’s been five years since you signed with the Chargers as an undrafted free agent, do you remember what your initial goals were?
JA: My initial goals were to make the team, number one, then to make my mark on special teams and to show my skills on defense once I was given an opportunity.
AG: As a rookie did you see yourself not only signing a lucrative contract, but also still being in the league five years down the road?
JA: I did, I’ve always had a lot of confidence in myself. Like I said, I wasn’t drafted for whatever reason, but that was out of my control… I’ve always believed in myself, and I still do to this day.
AG: With that being said, how satisfying was it to get the call from the team telling you they want to keep you here as a Charger?
JA: It was awesome. I love this organization — Tom (Telesco), Mr. Spanos (Dean) and the coaching staff for believing in me. I’ll be here for another four years to do my part to help this organization and program take off.
AG: Do you want to say anything to the Chargers’ fans out there who have supported this team for the past 56 years?
JA: Thank you, San Diego. We love you guys for all your support. You know, this is all I’ve known my whole career in the NFL and it’s sad to leave, but it’s what is next in our chapter. We appreciate you guys, we still want you to come up about two hours north to support us like you have over the past so many decades in this beautiful city of San Diego.
The Endzone: In a recent article, Pro Football Focus (PFF) posted its 2017 Season Record Predictions. Among the 10 teams listed to make a significant improvement, PFF ranked the Chargers number four.
“Los Angeles Chargers (10-6). Maybe the biggest surprise on this list would be the Chargers doubling their 2016 win total. On offense, they welcome back Keenan Allen, who missed most of last year due to injury. He has a 72 percent catch rate since 2013 when he joined the league, which is the best for a wide receiver who doesn’t primarily play in the slot.
“Mike Williams was also added to the offense as well as a reworked offensive line. On defense, they get back one of the best cornerbacks when healthy Jason Verrett. Since joining the league in 2014, he has only missed two tackles in coverage, leading him to have the best pass-tackling efficiency.
“With other starts on defense who are either ascending or in their prime like Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram, and Casey Hayward, this Chargers team has far too much talent to have another losing record.”