Chargers still have one offensive line spot left to tackle in draft
As the Chargers prepare for the NFL draft, The Times will examine their roster. Part 3 of 8: offensive line.
The ongoing saga of the Chargers’ offensive line is best captured by the career arc of Trai Turner, who arrived a year ago with five consecutive Pro Bowl seasons but today remains unsigned.
Turner’s fate went sideways in 2020 as injuries limited him to nine games and slightly fewer than half of the Chargers’ offensive snaps. This came after he made the Pro Bowl every year from 2015 to 2019 with Carolina.
Following his one season with the Chargers, Turner was released in March in a move to save salary-cap space.
Yeah, offensive line has been a problem for this team, the result being an 80% turnover for 2021.
The Chargers are set at starting safety, but need to find a replacement in draft for departed Casey Hayward at corner ... and need defensive back depth.
Only right tackle Bryan Bulaga returns among the starters. In free agency, general manager Tom Telesco found replacements at center (Corey Linsley) and both guard spots (Matt Feiler and Oday Aboushi).
The position that remains vacant is left tackle, which the Chargers certainly will address in the draft, most forecasters believing they will fill the need with their first choice, No. 13 overall.
Penei Sewell, who played with quarterback Justin Herbert at Oregon, is widely considered to be the best tackle available. It also is generally accepted that he will be gone by No. 13.
This means the Chargers will have to move up in the first round or be willing to wait for a tackle such as Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater or Virginia Tech’s Christian Darrisaw.
Of course, this assumes either will be available at No. 13 and that the Chargers won’t decide to use their first pick to secure the starting cornerback they also need.
Plenty can happen over the next eight days, and all of it — plus even more — will be the subject of rampant speculation.
The Chargers are paying wide receiver Mike Williams plenty to keep him on the roster, but is he part of the team’s long-term plans?
Under contract for 2021: Bulaga ($11 million), Linsley ($6.6 million), Feiler ($5 million), Aboushi ($1.6 million), Trey Pipkins ($1 million), Scott Quessenberry ($991,063), Ryan Hunter ($780,000), Storm Norton ($780,000), Tyree St. Louis ($780,000), Nate Gilliam ($660,000).
Free agents: The Chargers made Linsley the NFL’s highest-paid center of all time, signing him in March to a five-year deal that includes $26 million in guarantees and can be worth up to $62.5 million.
Draft: Whatever way the Chargers go, they are expected to select a tackle with one of their first two picks and could add more offensive line depth later in the draft too. This is one area they can’t stock up enough.
Roster decisions: If the season began today, Pipkins likely would be the starting left tackle. But the season doesn’t begin today, and Pipkins still needs time to develop. A third-round pick out of tiny Sioux Falls in 2019, Pipkins remains a project, one the Chargers will need to see progress this season.
NEXT: Defensive line.
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