LA Chargers: Buy or sell potential offensive line free agents

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(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

OT Alejandro Villanueva

Do the LA Chargers need another veteran tackle?

Alejandro Villanueva might be the Chargers’ number one target in free agency. For one, he’s a natural fit into the left tackle spot opposite Bulaga for next season. He’s played five straight seasons of 16 games, two of which earned him Pro Bowl nominations.

Shaun Sarrett is another name to pay attention to in reference to Villanueva. The former Steelers’ offensive line coach is now an assistant offensive line coach under Brandon Staley. Sarrett was a coach on the offensive line in Pittsburgh for three seasons and started there as an offensive analyst in 2012. That doesn’t mean Villanueva is definitely linked to Los Angeles, but it’s a little more fuel to the fire.

Villanueva is an older tackle at 33 years old. In general, I am against settling for a tackle at that age. Something that’s important to remember though is that he’s only had six seasons as a starter in Pittsburgh due to his military service from 2010-2015. Not many linemen in the NFL make it to 33 on average, but the ones that do have a lot more tread on their tires than Villanueva currently does.

That being said, price will be a sticking point here. Spotrac lists Villanueva’s average annual value for a new contract at $16.5 million. That’s a lot of money to spend on an aging tackle, but it is theoretically affordable. Cutting Bulaga after next season could save the Chargers an extra $11 million dollars in 2022. It’s certainly a doable deal. 3 years, $50 million is what it would probably take.

Having Villanueva on a $15+ million average cap hit until age 36 just doesn’t sit right with me in terms of value. With the draft, the Chargers will have Christian Darrisaw, Alijah Vera-Tucker, and Samuel Cosmi likely available to them at 13.

If they get lucky, perhaps Rashawn Slater will still be on the board as well. If we’re building a new line around Herbert, I’d rather get a rookie tackle that will be here for most of his career.

There are reasons for the Chargers to go after Villanueva, but it’s not the smartest money with the alternative options they have.

Alejandro Villanueva in FA: Sell