Chargers’ Russell Okung proving his worth with latest Pro Bowl selection

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 23: Russell Okung
ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 23: Russell Okung /

Los Angeles Chargers LT Russell Okung has been named to the 2018 Pro Bowl, a well-deserved honor for the veteran lineman.

Russell Okung signed a lucrative deal with the Los Angeles Chargers in the 2017 offseason.

It was a four-year, $53 million contract with $25 million in guaranteed money. Based on average annual salary, he’s currently the highest-paid left tackle in the league.

There were mixed emotions when he was signed. The Chargers needed to replace the oft-injured King Dunlap, and Okung, who was one of the top left tackles on the free-agent market, was considered a big upgrade over the former Charger. At the same time, Okung was coming off a poor year in Denver and the Chargers looked to have overpaid for the former Seahawk and Bronco. General manager Tom Telesco was desperate to fix the team’s biggest weakness on the roster.

But Okung’s play made everyone forget about all of that. One year with the Chargers, and QB Philip Rivers was sacked a league-low 18 times, which was also the lowest total of the veteran quarterback’s career as a starter. Rivers finished with the second-most passing yards (4,515) this past season, too. The running game had its issues, but Melvin Gordon rushed for over 1,000 yards for the first time in his career.

Okung made everyone around him better, solidifying a line that’s been a work in progress the last five-plus years. Not only that, but he stayed relatively healthy, only missing one game.

And Okung was rewarded with a Pro Bowl selection, replacing Raiders left tackle Donald Penn (injury). It’s the second honor of his career and first since 2013. According to the team’s official website, Okung allowed only two sacks, per STATS LLC, which tied his season best (at least 10 games played).

Okung turns 31 years old in October, but the Chargers have become a much better team with him on the field. Hopefully, he continues to play at the level he did in 2017.