Gaither missed 12 of San Diego’s 16 games during the 2012 season with multiple injuries which included a season ending groin injury suffered in a loss to the New Orleans Saints.
According to Michael Gehlken of utsandiego.com, “Multiple sources across different levels of the Chargers, including the locker room, questioned his toughness and commitment level to the team. About the time he was placed on IR, Gaither was told not to return to the building.”
Tom Telesco is San Diego’s new general manager and according to Gehlken, Telesco said, “I want to talk to him. I can’t make any decisions based on what people have told me. It’s a new regime. I’ve got to get to know everybody. I’ll take opinions from everybody. In the end, it’s our decisions. Will he be back for training camp? I don’t know. I’ve barely talked to him. We have a lot of work to do.”
It would be a shame for San Diego’s organization if history is repeating itself because former left tackle Marcus McNeill got a six year deal worth $48.9 million in 2010. McNeill suffered with injuries and was released last year in March.
San Diego’s offensive line played great in 2011 after Gaither was claimed off waivers because they allowed two sacks in five games with him compared to 28 sacks in 11 games without him. San Diego’s offensive line was terrible in 2012, though, because they allowed 49 sacks which ranked fourth in the NFL.
San Diego’s front office is expected to select an offensive lineman in round one of the 2013 NFL Draft and it will more than likely be left tackle Lane Johnson. This along with Gaither’s injury history could be the end of his short tenure with San Diego’s organization. Gaither missed five games in 2009, missed the entire 2010 season and missed 12 games in 2012.
Gaither’s average salary ranks fifth on San Diego’s roster and keeping him may not be worth the risk.