Commentary: As far as Chargers’ rebuild goes, they need to sell out on adding linemen, corners

Adding All-Pro center Corey Linsely is the key to the Chargers refurbishing the offensive line.
(Mike Nowak, Los Angeles Chargers)

The business of the Chargers is such that one member of the Spanos family is now attempting to force the other members of the Spanos family to sell the team.

Meanwhile, the Chargers’ football business must continue uninterrupted, the NFL unlikely to pause the 2021 offseason to accommodate the ownership turbulence of a franchise.

So general manager Tom Telesco will continue rebuilding a team that finished 2020 at 7-9, a result so underwhelming that the coaching staff has undergone 90% turnover.

The turnover on the starting offensive line this season will be nearly as dramatic.

With Forrest Lamp expected to sign elsewhere, only right tackle Bryan Bulaga will return, coming off a season in which injuries limited him to 38% of the team’s offensive snaps.

The other three starters from last season — Dan Feeney, Trai Turner and Sam Tevi — are gone from a group that ranked among the poorest in football.

A legal filing by Dea Spanos Berberian seeking to force the sale of the Chargers cites $353 million in family trust debt.

April 1, 2021


In free agency, the Chargers signed reigning NFC All-Pro Corey Linsley to play center, and three-year starter Matt Feiler to play guard. They also added Oday Aboushi with the idea that he could man the other guard spot.

A seven-year veteran, Aboushi never started more than 10 games in a season. But the Chargers believe he has the potential to hold the job for them from Day 1. Aboushi, 29, is coming off perhaps his best season.

He started eight games for a Detroit team that also fired its head coach en route to another losing season. Yet, the Chargers like what Aboushi showed in 2020, his signing heralded by some observers as underrated.

For now, the Chargers appear committed to finding a left tackle in the draft. Rashawn Slater (Northwestern), Christian Darrisaw (Virginia Tech) and Alijah Vera-Tucker (USC) are among the top choices forecast to be available when they pick at No. 13.

There are questions about Slater and Vera-Tucker playing tackle in the NFL, mostly because of some size limitations. Darrisaw is coming from a collegiate system unlike anything he’ll see in the NFL, regardless of where he ends up.

The quarrel within the Spanos family doesn’t help the Chargers’ standing in Los Angeles and could lead to a sale down the road.

April 1, 2021

Then there’s 2019 third-round choice Trey Pipkins, who has started eight games over his first two seasons. Though the Chargers remain high on Pipkins, the idea of him emerging as the starting left tackle this summer seems unlikely at this point.

This is said to be a deep draft for tackles, meaning the Chargers could go in a completely different direction with their first pick before taking a tackle later. Cornerback is another position where they are lacking a starter.


(There also are plenty of mock drafts that have the Chargers selecting a receiver at No. 13.)

With former Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley taking over as head coach, the Chargers will be looking for a cornerback versatile enough to play man-to-man and zone.

Los Angeles Rams new defensive coordinator Brandon Staley gives a thumbs up during camp.
After leading the NFL’s top defense with the Rams last season, as head coach the Chargers hope to see Brandon Staley point theirs in the right direction.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

This defense in 2021 will feature a variety of looks from the front to the secondary, and having players who can handle multiple assignments will be one of the keys to its success.

The top cornerbacks in the draft include Patrick Surtain II (Alabama), Caleb Farley (Virginia Tech), Jaycee Horn (South Carolina), Greg Newsome II (Northwestern) and Asante Samuel Jr. (Florida State).

After picking 13th, the Chargers’ next choice comes at No. 47. They have two more selections — Nos. 71 and 97 — in the first 100.

They also could use more depth at numerous spots, particularly safety, defensive line and tight end.

Sale talk

Eventually, perhaps, the Spanos family will have to sell the team. The court filing this week by Dea Spanos Berberian, the sister of controlling owner Dean Spanos, is just the first step of what would have to be many.

Who knows? Maybe one day Clippers owner Steve Ballmer really will buy the Chargers. For a guy who goes bananas over the exploits of Ivica Zubac, just imagine how Ballmer would react to Justin Herbert.

With 17-game NFL season approved, Chargers get Vikings in extra game. Preseason is cut to three games.

March 30, 2021

Ballmer assuming control of the team would represent a significant shift, particularly given the widely perceived status of the Chargers being the SoFi Stadium little brother to the Rams.

At $71.6 billion, Ballmer is worth — using the latest figures from Forbes — nearly nine Stan Kroenkes.

For now, though, that kind of talk is only fantasy football, just something to ponder while the reality of a rebuild rolls on.