Since the start of free agency, there has been a lot of movement around the NFL. The Chargers started making moves February 4 when they hired offensive line coach James Campen.
"I am really excited about that," explained Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn. "I thought James (Campen) did a good job in Cleveland last year. I thought he did a heck of a job in Green Bay for the 11 years he was there. He was a guy that was on the radar. We were fortunate enough to land him."
Campen played in the NFL as a center for the New Orleans Saints and Green bay Packers. He then transitioned to become an offensive line coach for the Green Bay Packers from 2007-2018 and then for the Cleveland Browns last season. Campen drafted pro-bowl caliber talent like David Bakhtiari, TJ Land, and Josh Sitton in the later rounds of the draft. He has an eye for talent.
Campen has already begun making changes.
Exactly one month after hiring their offensive line coach, the team traded veteran left tackle Russell Okung, 31, to the Carolina Panthers for right guard Trai Turner, 26, in a rare offensive lineman for offensive lineman trade.
"It's kind of like a fresh start," Turner said. "I get to be in a new facility, new teammates, new coaches, new city. I'm looking at it as like a rejuvenation of my football career."
Turner will be joined on the right side by a former Packer at right tackle in Bryan Bulaga. The Packers drafted him in 2010. That season he became the first rookie starting right tackle to win a Super Bowl in NFL history. Bulaga has been a pro-bowl caliber player for the Packers and will now try to bring that intensity to the Bolts. He also reunites with Campen, who was his o-line coach for eight seasons.
"What makes Coach Campen not just a great coach, but a great person to talk to within an offensive line room is he does have ways he wants guys to do things," Bulaga explained. "Footwork and hand placement, things like that. But he also realizes not every guy is built the exact same…. He's not going to fit guys into a cookie-cutter mold. He's going to let guys be themselves with what they're comfortable doing. He refines that and really works on the things that you do."
Those two additions are pretty good.
Now the focus turns to the left side of the line. The Bolts did trade away their veteran left tackle to Carolina and have a huge hole.
The Chargers have a few options here. The draft is full of prospects at the left tackle position. Maybe they take one with the sixth overall pick.
They could trade for Washington Redskins left tackle Trent Williams who wants a new contract. Vince Taylor, Williams' agent, said that the star tackle is looking for around $16 million per year.
The Bolts could sign free agent left tackle Jason Peters for one-year. Peters is 38 years old, but he can still play. He also could coach up Trey Pipkins, whom the team drafted in the third-round last season, and help him adapt to the speed of the game.
"We could add another veteran, but it depends who he is. I like some of the guys that we have who played there last year," Lynn said.
The Chargers have made a lot of positive moves to improve their offensive line so far in free agency. They still have work to do to keep their new quarterback upright and open up holes for the running backs in the upcoming season.