June 19, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers offensive tackle Jared Gaither (78) smiles during a drill during minicamp at Charger Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The Legacy of AJ Smith: The Gaither Experience

During the 2012 offseason, Jared Gaither signed a hefty 4-year, $24.6 million dollar contract with $13.5 million guaranteed. Here’s the part that makes me cringe, Gaither is the 5th highest paid Charger on the current roster only behind, Rivers, Weddle, Meachem and Gates, in that order. Want to know who’s next on the list? 6th is Jeromey Clary, 7th is Antonio Garay, our meager right tackle and quirky part-time nose tackle!! Yet, we couldn’t afford to keep Darren Sproles, our “Lighting Bug,” who signed with the New Orleans Saints for 4-years at only $14 million dollars. I’m sorry, I’m drifting off the subject but my point is this, AJ Smith threw San Diego’s money at the wrong soldiers and now it’s up to Tom Telesco to clean it up.

Gaither made a mockery of his contract and regardless if he’s released in the coming weeks or not he’ll laugh all the way to the bank with guaranteed money. At the same time the Chargers will absorb over a $6 million dollar hit to the salary cap. Although I can’t give Robert Meachem too much credit for not living up to expectation but the difference is he wanted to play and tried to prove to our team that he could get the job done…even though he didn’t! Meachem tried and tried, Gaither didn’t. Gaither refused to play until his back was 100%, pathetic considering your teammate, Philip Rivers played in the 2007 AFC Championship game with a torn ligament. Or that Marcus McNeil rolled his ankle in the 2009 season opener but refused to sit out. Or when the great Ladainian Tomlinson broke his ribs at the end of the 2005 season but continued to play out the season. Man up Gaither, this is football!! The Chargers have had gutsy players and we need the Chargers to play with that type of feel again.

It’s inevitable, releasing Gaither is going to hurt the Chargers pocketbook but the Chargers will be a better team without him. Tom Telesco has work to do, find gutsy players while with depleted space in the salary cap (thank you AJ for throwing away all the Chargers money during last season’s free agency, just to save your job). Maybe Tom had a point when he said he was going to build this team through the draft, that’s because he doesn’t have a choice!

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