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The First Read: Five players who will thrive in 2024 NFL season thanks to offseason movement

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There are two things we know for certain about this year’s Chargers. One is that new head coach Jim Harbaugh will be the best thing that ever happened to quarterback Justin Herbert in the NFL. The other is that the Chargers are going to run the ball far more than they ever have since Herbert arrived in 2020, which means Edwards will be a major factor. GM Joe Hortiz already has told local reporters that Edwards — who spent the first five years of his career in Baltimore — is going to be the team’s bell cow back. Anybody who’s followed Harbaugh’s career knows that means a heavy workload is on the horizon. Harbaugh was known for a relentless rushing attack at Michigan, an approach that helped him win a national championship last year. He had the same philosophy as the San Francisco 49ers’ head coach from 2011 to 2014. Harbaugh inherited a 28-year-old Frank Gore when he took that job, and Gore produced four straight 1,100-yard seasons for that franchise. 

When Edwards plays his first snap for Harbaugh, he’ll be one year older than Gore was (29), but it’s not difficult to see him doing similar things in this system. Edwards has the size (6-foot-1, 238 pounds) that Harbaugh loves in his offense. Edwards also was productive in Baltimore, where he ran for at least 700 yards in four of his five seasons, and Hortiz — who worked in the Ravens’ front office — watched him closely. The Chargers will likely look to the draft to find another backfield option, but little-used Isaiah Spiller is the only other experienced back on the roster right now. The Chargers know Herbert is the key to whatever success they hope to have in the AFC West, where the Chiefs have won the last eight division titles. The presence of Edwards as an effective runner isn’t too far behind on that list.

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