You Decide: How To Fix The Left Tackle Position (Poll)
By MC Boltman
December 30, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) is sacked during the second quarter against the Oakland Raiders at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
So, the Chargers did not pick a left tackle in this year´s NFL draft and Bryant McKinnie fooled us all by signing a two-year contract with the Baltimore Ravens after going out to dinner with our front office staff, taking a physical and texting stuff like “It´s nice out here (in San Diego)”. But whatever – in the end it´s all about business; he wanted to test the market in order to get a better deal with the Ravens. Well done, party boy!
For us this means, we have to try to get another guy for the left side of the offensive line or we´re okay with the player personnel we´ve got on the roster right now.
OPTIONS ON THE ROSTER
We´ve all seen what Mike Harris could do…or what he couldn´t do last year: protecting Philip Rivers´ blind side. But I want to be fair; he had some decent performances and is willing to learn. As an undrafted rookie last season he was thrown in at the deep end. The guy gained some experience as starter and probably will do a better job next season when given the chance.
Would King Dunlap be the better option than Harris at left tackle? Well, according to Philadelphia Eagles fans, he´s not. Most of them hated him; they hated him – and probably still hate him although he´s gone. But there are some facts that should be considered when talking about Dunlap. Philly fans were used to watching 5-time Pro-Bowler and 4-time All-Pro Jason Peters protecting their quarterback´s blind side. The stud tackle ruptured his Achilles tendon during an offseason workout and missed the complete 2012 season. King Dunlap was far from consistent, but also if he would´ve done a better job last year, the fans would´ve hated him as he had to step into that great man´s shoes which he never was able to fill. And I want to add, that it might be a little bit harder to block for a mobile quarterback than for a classic drop-back passer, as you´ll never know where they´re going to be. I´ll let you decide in which of those quarterback categories Philip Rivers fits the best.
If we´re not too pleased with any of those guys as starters, then what are the options for the Chargers to address the left tackle position?
The whole BoltNation seems to talk about free agent Max Starks right now. Starks has been on the Pittsburgh Steelers since 2004 and started all 16 games last season. He won two championships with the team, one as starting left tackle and one as starting right tackle. One of those Super Bowl rings came with Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt as their play caller. He probably (or surely) is the best blind side protector available at this point in free agency – although his play tailed off last season after returning from ACL surgery. At the age of 31, he has a ton of experience under his belt but still some fuel left in the tank. Starks was a $890,000 cap hit for the Steelers last year (i.e. relatively “cap space friendly”) and so the veteran left tackle could be a very interesting option for the Lightning Bolts.
Yes I´m doing it; I´m listing Demetress Bell here. Why? Because he is available and lines up as left tackle. I already mentioned that King Dunlap got bashed pretty hard by Philadelphia Eagles fans; guess I don´t have to tell you that they were coming twice as hard at Bell. Demetress Bell, 29, struggled in Howard Mudd’s system and actually was worse than Dunlap in 2012. He was given a 5 year, $34.5 million contract in 2012, but was released after just one year. In my opinion it´s not an impossibility that he might rebound on an other team. But he definitely would be nothing more than an addition for depth purpose.
If Tom Telesco decides that none of these free agents are worth a pick-up, then trades can save us from watching King Dunlap or Mike Harris starting at left tackle.
Well, I´m mentioning Jason Peters here, because the Philadelphia Eagles just drafted top tier tackle Lane Johnson and Peters is set to be $11 million cap hit in 2013; but the release of the 31-year old stud would only create about $800,000 in dead money! As mentioned above he is recovering from an Achilles tendon rupture and did not see any on-field action in 2012. The Eagles acquired Peters (undrafted in 2004) from the Buffalo Bills for the 28th overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft. They also gave up a fourth-round pick (121st overall) in the same year and a late sixth round conditional pick in 2010. Although the 4-time All-Pro and 5-time Pro-Bowler was injured last season, I don´t expect him to come in significantly cheaper than that. So, after all it´s not very likely that trade will happen.
The Kansas City Chiefs used their franchise tag on Branden Albert; this means he´s about to get 9.8 million guaranteed money this year. After making left tackle Eric Fisher the first overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft, they are still open to trade the veteran left tackle for a second round pick in return. Albert, 28, surely would demand around $9 million per year and, just like Jason Peters, he might be too expensive for the Chargers. His history of back problems doesn´t make this option too attractive for me either.
This is a trade some Chargers fans are begging for; which makes sense as the Jacksonville Jaguars just selected top tackle Luke Joeckel in the draft last week. The former first round pick Eugene Monroe, is one of the league´s best tackles and surely would cost us at least a second round pick, if not a first rounder in 2014. Monroe, 26, is entering the final year of his rookie contract and will demand big-time money when signing his extension. So, just like for the other trade options; this move might eat up too much cap space.
So, Bolt Family, now it´s your turn – Tom Telesco needs your help!
What should the Chargers do to upgrade the left tackle position?