Trying to determine how any given NFL organization may choose to allocate its resources during the upcoming free agency period is normally quite a task. For most teams, there are several areas that could use some attention, but generally the ability to make sweeping changes just isn’t a feasible reality. With the San Diego Chargers, there is one clear focus that the club should have coming into free agency and by all accounts the team is finally taking the approach to make a complete overhaul on the offensive line.
Quarterback Philip Rivers has to be grateful to hear that news as he was thoroughly abused during this past season running for his life from the pseudo-pocket that he has been provided with. Rivers was sacked 49 times in 2012 which ranked 29th in the league. The absence of a true blindside protector with Jared Gaither’s phantom injury/laziness issues and other various injuries across the front five really ballooned that total.
It certainly seems as if the team is prepared for a remodel of their entire front line of protection. Guard Louis Vasquez will be a free agent as of March 12 and many believe he will not be brought due to the new scheme that the Bolts are set to employ this season with a zone blocking concept courtesy of Joe D’Alessandris. He brings his philosophies over from the Buffalo Bills where they were very successful on the ground in hopes of that success in San Diego alleviating some of the pass rush pressure on Rivers.
One player who has been linked to the Chargers from the time that D’Alessandris signed on with the club is guard Andy Levitre of Buffalo who is set to become a free agent himself. He will be the top guard on the market right alongside Vasquez, but at 6’2” 305lbs. he is much more mobile and suited for the zone blocking concept than Vasquez at 6’5” 335lbs. He may have been one of the few consistent performers on the line this past season, but a philosophical change could mean the end of his time with the Bolts.
The upcoming season may feature a brand new configuration of protection in front of Rivers for the Chargers and that wouldn’t be a bad idea. Given the regression that he has shown over the past two seasons under pressure, the Bolts need to salvage their once promising signal caller’s career before it’s too late. It may not be an absolute certainty like death or taxes, but the Chargers making some serious alterations to their offensive line seems about as close to a forgone conclusion as possible with free agency less than two weeks away.