The Chargers officially signed left tackle Russell Okung to a 4-year, $53 million contract with $25 million in guaranteed money on Friday.
Okung comes over from Denver, who released him after one underwhelming season. The entire Broncos offensive line was a mess with Trevor Siemien at quarterback. It’s an interesting decision for the Chargers because Okung does not on the surface seem like the guy who can really help in Los Angeles.
The Chargers’ o-line has had two major issues the last few years:
- Protecting quarterback Philip Rivers
- Staying healthy
Okung was a Pro Bowler in 2012 but last season saw a drastic drop in his pass protection. Supporters of Okung point to that 2012 year as the mark of his potential but that was with Russell Wilson at QB, a guy who is a whole lot more mobile than Rivers.
As for health, last year was the first time in Okung’s 7-year NFL career that he played all 16 games so durability has been an issue, another thing to kind of make Chargers fans scratch their heads over. Plus there is the question of what do they do with the current roster.
Odds are they have to release current left tackle King Dunlap, who will count a little more than $3 million against the 2017 salary cap, and still find a guy who can play right guard after they said good-bye to D.J. Fluker.
The Bolts have a few options in-house but all are unproven commodities. Max Tuerk, Spencer Pulley and Donavon Clark are all in the system. Tuerk was their 3rd round pick out of USC who never played a snap, taking what amounts to a redshirt year as a rookie. He can play center or either guard spot, as can last year’s starting center Matt Slauson.
Pulley made the team as an undrafted free agent from Vanderbilt and was an injury replacement for a few games. Clark was their 7th round pick from Michigan State who turned heads in practice but suffered a torn ACL in the preseason.
If all of those guys are healthy the Chargers should have some flexibility on the line even if they don’t add any other linemen in free agency or the 2017 NFL Draft.
The Chargers also kept a piece of their defensive line, re-signing nose tackle Damion Square to a 2-year contract. Square entered the starting lineup after Brandon Mebane was lost for the season with a torn biceps muscle and played well, finishing the year with 31 tackles and 2.5 sacks.