General manager Tom Telesco said he was giving everyone, including Jared Gaither, a clean slate and would determine this offseason if the much-maligned left tackle had a place with the San Diego Chargers.
Just over a week into the new league year, Gaither surprisingly remains on the roster.
Another one of A.J. Smith’s free agent busts from a year ago, Gaither missed 12 games last season due to back and groin injuries. Many teammates questioned his toughness and commitment to the team, believing he exaggerated the severity of his injuries. When placed on injured reserve, he was told not to return to the team facilities.
Though talented, Gaither has had injury and work ethic issues since his days with the Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs. Surely, he’s had his share of second chances, and he can’t possibly deserve another one in San Diego.
But if Telesco hasn’t already been convinced that Gaither isn’t worth the trouble, why hasn’t he cut ties with him yet? It can’t possibly be because Telesco actually believes he can be relied upon, can it?
Let’s hope not.
The Chargers could just be keeping Gaither on the roster until they bring in a suitable replacement. Though they’ve added King Dunlap, the Chargers are likely still seeking offensive tackle help in free agency. The Bolts were reportedly interested in and already met with Eric Winston, who still remains on the market. The Chargers are also in position to draft a guy like Lane Johnson in next month’s NFL Draft.
Though holding onto Gaither gives them flexibility in the off-chance they don’t bring in another starting-caliber tackle or two, starting Dunlap and Jeromey Clary at the tackle positions while cutting Gaither still appears to be the better move.
Much like Robert Meachem’s ridiculous contract saved his job, Gaither’s contract could be another reason he’s still with the team. If the Chargers choose to keep him, they’ll pay him $4.5 million in base salary, and he’ll cost $6.5 million against the cap. Cutting him would result in a $6 million cap hit, and therefore only a $500,000 savings in cap space. Still, it would be worth it to cut him, as he wouldn’t be accepted in the locker room anyway.