The 2015 NFL season was an absolute nightmare for the San Diego Chargers. The team finished with the third worst record in the league and struggled immensely, partially thanks to some serious issues on the offensive line. The team had to make some upgrades at the position during the 2016 offseason. The team was able to do that by signing the recently released Matt Slauson to a two-year contract on Saturday afternoon.
Slauson has played 85 career games all of which were starts over six professional seasons. He began his career with the New York Jets after being a sixth-round pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, but he spent the past three years as a member of the Chicago Bears. With the Bears, Slauson was one of the team’s best offensive linemen and played very well in both run blocking and pass protection.
The only reason that the Bears released Slauson was because they got younger at the position. The team already had Kyle Long, one of the best guards in the league, and they were able to land Cody Whitehair in the second round of the 2016 draft and he also projects to be a guard. Couple those two with young center Hroniss Grasu, and the Bears really did not need a veteran guard to take playing time from these developing young players.
Still, Slauson is a very talented interior offensive linemen and landing with the Chargers is a great spot for him. The team is likely going to play him at the center position where he would be an upgrade over the incumbent, Chris Watt. Slauson will help to make Philip Rivers‘ protection significantly better and he will add some depth to the team’s line, which was one of their main issues last season.
Adding Slauson will also help give some of San Diego’s younger linemen a chance to develop. The team just drafted Max Tuerk in the 2016 NFL Draft, but given his injury issues it may take him longer to get adjusted to the league. Tuerk could sit behind Slauson for a year and learn from the veteran, ultimately becoming a better player.
It is never a bad idea to bring in a savvy veteran on a short-term deal, and that is exactly what the Chargers are doing here. The team needed some offensive line help and they got the best guy left on the market. It is not often that a team can land a potential starter in early May, but the Chargers have done just that.