Chargers Still Looking for Left Tackles
By James Fedewa
How many starting left tackles are there in the NFL? In reality there are only 32, if each team in the NFL has one. But which NFL team has multiple starting left tackles? Currently and technically, the Chargers have two: King Dunlap & Mike Harris. Both have starting experience, both have new coaches from seasons prior, both want the job and both have very minimal contracts. Dunlap and Harris can both grow into good players, or they stay average, or both can be terrible. Either way, San Diego’s offensive line looks better than 2012, but more additions and auditions are welcome.
GM Tom Telesco can do several things to fill San Diego’s left tackle void, including nothing (which could happen):
Free Agency: Left tackle Max Starks and Eric Winston are still available. Both can play the “sit and wait” game until another team faces a major injury to current starter. We’ll call it the Melvin Ingram method, which can be very formidable for Starks and Winston, but it could also mean waiting too long and never getting a job again in the NFL. Waiting for work and looking for work are two different things.
If San Diego wants to low-ball Starks, wouldn’t Starks prefer to take the lesser contract to go to a championship caliber team? San Diego’s (Ken Whisenhunt) and Arizona (Bruce Arians) coaching staffs have ties to Starks; however, I would not expect Starks to go to west, as he seems to slip back to Pittsburg every year.
Eric Winston is a little different scenario, which can prove lucrative to his future. Winston is looking for a multi-year deal worth $3 to $4 million per season, which is a lot for a zone-blocking right tackle. Coming out of college, Winston was a left tackle prospect that excelled in Houston playing right tackle. If San Diego can lure Eric Winston to come to San Diego, on a 1 year contract for $3 million, and if he plays well, he can shed the “zone blocking right tackle” label, and could make a lot more money as a left tackle in free agency in 2014. A Win – Win situation for both parties (but Winston will turn 30 next season too).
San Diego can also make a trade for a left tackle, which will be the most difficult scenario. Rams Rodger Saffold and Jaguars Eugene Monroe might be trade worthy (within Chargers fan circles) but in reality, both Saffold and Monroe’s contracts are salary cap friendly in 2013 and no team would trade a good cheap left tackle, even if they are backups. Tackle Derrick Sherrod has been underperforming in Green Bay, and has slid to backup right tackle on the Packers depth chart. He could be trade bait. The only trade ammunition San Diego has is really only future draft picks.
Roster Cuts: The Chargers can also play the “sit and wait” game and see who becomes available from salary cap casualties. Every year, NFL teams dump payroll or decide to get younger at all positions. Rumors of Bears tackle Gabe Carimi and Giants tackle David Diehl could be cut and could be new options in San Diego. Carimi has not attending team workouts, is coming off a leg injury and is with a new coaching staff. He has not excelled in Chicago, nor has earned a lot of playing time since being drafted in the first round. David Diehl has turned into a backup player for the Giants. Injury risks and age can send him to a new place in 2013.
Examining every NFL Teams offensive tackle depth is all preferential and subjective. Every player and tackle combination can have plus or minus paper grades in the offseason, but currently, Chargers King Dunlap with DJ Flucker at both tackle spots is still better than Mike Harris and Jeromey Clary last season.