The main objective for the LA Chargers this offseason has to be building up the offensive line. The team cannot afford to let Justin Herbert get pressured as much as he was in 2021 and not being aggressive with the offensive line this offseason is a failure.
This means spending the team’s first-round pick on a left tackle and spending another high pick on an interior offensive lineman as well. It also means utilizing the free-agent market and finding the right fit.
Now, the Chargers have to be careful in who they pursue. I am not a huge fan of overpaying for veteran offensive linemen as they often regress and are more likely to get injured with the miles on their bodies. Just look at Trai Turner and Bryan Bulaga in 2020.
But with the offensive line being such a priority, I would not be shocked if Tom Telesco also turns to free agency to help patch up the offensive line. If so, and we are assuming that the Chargers can only sign one big offensive lineman, then it absolutely has to be Green Bay Packers center Corey Linsley.
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Linsley is one of the more popular names that Charger fans are clamoring about but the biggest name on the market that is getting the most intention is guard Joe Thuney. In fact, Spotrac actually predicted that Thuney would sign with the LA Chargers.
Both are solid options, but I would much rather have Linsley.
Why the LA Chargers should pursue Corey Linsley over Joe Thuney:
The Chargers’ entire offensive line is essentially an area of need but there is value in bringing in a veteran center to help be the leader of what should be a mostly young offensive line. You want to bring in someone who is experienced with a great quarterback, as Linsley is, who can also help Justin Herbert as well.
That alone makes Linsley super valuable. There are some really intriguing center options in this draft that the Chargers could snag in the mid-rounds, but those picks might be reserved for skill-position players after likely going offensive line twice in the first three rounds.
Linsey is coming off of the best season of his career and is trending in the right direction. He was named an All-Pro for his efforts in 2020 and he turns 30 in July. That is not too old for an offensive lineman.
Thuney is a year and a half younger than Linsley and has a higher, and more consistent, ceiling. That seemingly makes him the much better signing for the LA Chargers, but that is not the case. While Thuney would be a fantastic addition, the Chargers are most likely going to add a left guard early in the 2021 NFL Draft.
I would be hard-pressed to imagine them taking a center with one of the first two picks whereas a guard is all-the-more likely.
Most importantly though is the cost. Thuney is the best offensive lineman on the market this offseason and he is going to get paid as such. Spotrac projects Thuney to sign a five-year, $76.8 million deal that pays him $15.3 million per season.
Linsley, on the other hand, is projected to get a three-year, $29.1 million contract that would pay him $9.7 million per season. He will likely get slightly more than that and will get $10-10.5 million, but that extra $5 million is a huge deal.
The years on the backend are a big deal as well. The LA Chargers would be committing to less with Linsley, which is ideal with Justin Herbert. Sure, you want Thuney for a long-time, but chances are the team would be overpaying him significantly by years four and five. That worry does not exist in a three-year deal with Linsley.
Almost anything is better than Dan Feeney at center but the LA Chargers should not settle. They should go after Corey Linsley.