The volume of the chatter for the San Diego Chargers to land a left tackle in some shape or form during free agency and the NFL Draft is likely to increase significantly in the coming days. Clearly the team has to improve on an offensive line that was absolutely woeful in 2012 and the player responsible for protecting quarterback Philip Rivers’ blindside is a great place to start. There will be several options available in both free agency and the draft, but this time around, signing a tackle would be the best move for the team.
Obviously the go-to argument for a free agent over an incoming rookie is the fact that the veteran has already proven himself in the NFL. Given the market for left tackles however, the chances of the Bolts affording one of the elites isn’t very good. Will Beatty signed a five-year $38.75 million extension with the New York Giants and he would have probably been the sixth or seventh best available in free agency. That makes the fact that the Chargers were rumored to have mentioned Kansas City Chiefs’ left tackle Branden Albert’s name at the Combine all that much more interesting.
I heard Chargers dropped Branden Albert’s name to some people at Combine. But $$ like Will Beatty’s 5yr, $38.75 mil deal makes me skeptical.
— UTKevinAcee (@UTKevinAcee) February 27, 2013
I know what you’re thinking. ‘If you are going to sign a big name free agent, how does that involve the draft?’ Really how does it not? The Chargers would then free themselves up in the first round of the draft to target another player of more value with the 11th overall selection. It is highly likely that the top three tackles will be gone by the time the Bolts are put on the clock so why not fill another hole on the offensive line. Most expect the team to try and bring back right guard Louis Vasquez, but left guard Tyronne Green is another story. If Chance Warmack of Alabama or Jonathan Cooper of North Carolina are available at number 11, why not fill a need?
MAYBE EVEN DEFENSE
Now I realize this has veered severely from the original intent of arguing about a left tackle, but if that need is filled via free agency and an unexpected name slides in the draft to the Chargers’ pick, why not maximize the value of the selection? Of course the two players that I am referring to are Jarvis Jones of Georgia or Star Lotulelei of Utah who both have some medical red flags that concern teams at the top of the draft. For the Chargers and General Manager Tom Telesco, a player of this caliber would turn the Bolts’ defense into an absolute force. Just opening up the possibility of landing either one is an extremely exciting proposition.
So if it is in fact Branden Albert who the Bolts pursue or another free agent left tackle, filling the most glaring need on this team through free agency rather than the draft would be a wise move. The team could rid itself of the problem that is Jared Gaither and move on from that failed experiment while adding some flexibility to its draft position and improving on many different levels looking ahead to 2013.