Chargers trade left tackle Russell Okung to Carolina for Pro Bowl guard
The Chargers have agreed to trade Russell Okung to the Carolina Panthers for Trai Turner in an exchange of veteran, accomplished offensive linemen.
The deal can not become official until the NFL new league year begins on March 18.
Okung, 32, is a two-time Pro Bowl tackle who started 36 games over the last three seasons. Turner is six years younger and has made the Pro Bowl in each of the last five years playing right guard.
Michael Schofield, the Chargers’ incumbent starter at right guard, is set to become a free agent.
Offensive line is one area general manager Tom Telesco has targeted to upgrade, this deal allowing him to begin the process while getting younger across the front.
The Chargers have until May 30 to exercise the fifth-year option on receiver Mike Williams’ rookie contract, which would pay him close to $14 million in 2021.
Okung started 30 of 32 regular-season games in his first two years after joining the Chargers as a free agent in March of 2017. He suffered a pulmonary embolism during the team’s offseason program in June, however, and was limited to six games in 2019 because of health issues.
Recognized as a team leader, Okung has been one of the NFL’s most outspoken players during the ongoing negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement.
When Okung was sidelined last season, Trent Scott started the first seven games at left tackle and Trey Pipkins the final three. Scott was undrafted out of Grambling State in 2018 and Pipkins was a 2019 third-round pick from Sioux Falls.
The Chargers could look to add a tackle in the upcoming draft, one that is considered strong at the top for the position.
The Chargers are not expected to retain veteran wide receiver Travis Benjamin, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
Turner will bolster an interior offensive line that has struggled the last few seasons. He was considered the Panthers’ top linemen among a group that, similar to the Chargers’ situation, was inconsistent.
Turner is signed for two more seasons and is scheduled to make base salaries of $8.5 million and $11 million, respectively.
His addition, plus the return of veteran center Mike Pouncey — who is still awaiting medical clearance after undergoing neck surgery — could be vital for the Chargers in 2020.
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