Signing veteran free agents has never been the calling card of the San Diego Chargers organization. The team has preferred to build through the draft and do very little in terms of investment via free agency. Special circumstances this offseason along with a new regime in town with Head Coach Mike McCoy and General Manager Tom Telesco have led to a new philosophy it seems. Now less than a week after adding veteran pass rusher Dwight Freeney to the mix, the Bolts have officially inked left tackle Max Starks to a deal as well.
While the Freeney signing was necessitated by an injury to second-year pass rusher Melvin Ingram, this addition was required after the team rid itself of former problem child Jared Gaither at the left tackle position earlier in the offseason. It also became a wise decision after quarterback Philip Rivers spent more time on his back than upright in the pocket during the 2012 season. The Bolts surrender 49 sacks last year, and those numbers greatly contributed to the veteran signal caller’s statistical downfall.
San Diego had already attempted to court Baltimore Ravens left tackle Bryant McKinnie earlier in the offseason, but that fell through after the current Super Bowl champions re-upped with Joe Flacco’s blindside protector. This lengthy pursuit of Starks to man the left side will pay off in the end as he still has a few solid years left at 31 years of age.
At this late desperation point in the game, the Chargers have to be ecstatic to find a competent veteran option like Starks still available. GM Telesco has already garnered plenty of admiration this offseason for his masterful work early in free agency as well as the draft, but these two latest moves only further reinforce the opinion that this guy knows what he’s doing.
Protecting the quarterback and applying pressure to the opposing QB are the two most important aspects of today’s NFL. The fact that the Chargers were able to land two experienced players with proven track records of doing just that for the better part of the past decade in the league is astounding in less than a week’s time. The turnaround may not happen overnight for this organization, but fans can rest assured that brighter days will be returning sooner rather than later; and not just the weather forecast in always sunny southern California.