The status of Mike Pouncey’s career remains in the air after not being cleared from his neck injury. What are the potential possibilities for the LA Chargers going forward?
Coach Anthony Lynn said the #Chargers expect C Mike Pouncey (neck surgery) to be cleared medically by the time the players reconvene. But added, "If he’s not, we have other options."
— Jeff Miller (@JeffMillerLAT) April 1, 2020
The update on Pouncey really is the first update we’ve had since the initial injury in October, which is when Lynn said he didn’t know if the injury was career-ending. Pouncey being cleared would be a big boost for an offensive line that just added Trai Turner and Bryan Bulaga.
If he’s healthy, he’s the best center on the team. He’s not as good as when he was in Miami, but he can get the job done. Pouncey was a Pro Bowl center for the Chargers in 2018 when he was able to play 16 games.
Going into the final year of his contract, he knows he’ll have to have a year like that to get paid on his next deal. Despite age and injury concerns, there’s no way they move on from him if he’s healthy.
The real interest comes in the contingency plans. What do the Chargers do if Pouncey isn’t allowed to play in 2020? Other options on the roster include Dan Feeney and Scott Quessenberry.
It’s hard to recommend going back to Feeney after the quality of Quessenberry’s play towards the end of last year. Quessenberry’s PFF grade was seven points higher and it’s the natural position he plays, whereas Feeney was a guard shifting over to center.
I love it when young players get their shot and crush it. Chargers center (61) Scott Quessenberry has been excellent since taking over the position. Chargers lost Pouncey and Lamp to injury but the run game has been revived because of Okung’s return and SQ’s solid play. pic.twitter.com/coY7i7SyaB
— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) November 4, 2019
The Chargers may also look to address center depth in the draft. Plenty of quality interior offensive linemen will be available. Tyler Biadasz is the star of the class when looking at centers. He was able to open lanes and holes for Jonathan Taylor with ease. A second or third-round selection of Biadasz would have the future of the center position in good hands.
Other quality options might come later in the draft. Darryl Williams has the potential to go late in the third round after a good combine. Matt Hennessy may not go until late in the fourth round, but he’s a slept on prospect. The Temple product missed time in 2019 with a concussion but would be ready to go if the Chargers drafted him.
Even if Pouncey is healthy, it may make sense to take a center in the draft anyway because of his contract situation. The Chargers have a lot of quality starters who need contracts next year, including Pouncey.
Joey Bosa, Keenan Allen, Desmond King, Melvin Ingram, and Hunter Henry are just a few of the other players in need of a new contract next year. A cheap, efficient center who could be the starter for three or four years on his rookie deal would help from a salary cap perspective going forward.
Pouncey’s 2020 status will have to be resolved at some point in the offseason program for the Chargers. With the inability to get a physical due to COVID-19, that may be a while. If Pouncey is healthy, it’s pretty easy to roll with him in 2020 and evaluate his performance going forward.
If Pouncey isn’t healthy, Quessenberry or Feeney will be expected to step up. As of now, I prefer Quessenberry for that role. The LA Chargers would also probably pursue a center in the draft. Even if he is healthy, the Chargers may need to plan to replace him for the long term since his contract is up next year anyway.