3 Chargers in contract years primed for big seasons in 2023
By Jason Reed
3. Austin Johnson
The Chargers have committed to rebuilding the defensive line since hiring Brandon Staley and Austin Johnson was one of the key additions that helped do just that. Los Angeles signed Johnson alongside Sebastian Joseph-Day during the 2022 offseason to add a much-needed jolt to the interior offensive line.
Joseph-Day still has another year under contract for the 2024 season while Johnson is going to hit the market after the 2023 season. This is probably the last time Johnson can get a decent-sized pay day as an interior defensive lineman, so having a big season in 2023 is huge.
Johnson's main value to the Chargers comes in stopping the run on early downs but he also adds value as a pass-rushing option as well. With talent around him in Morgan Fox, Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack, there is actually a lot of potential for Johnson to have a bigger impact in the pass rush as long as he stays healthy.
And that is the main key for Johnson and his prospects of getting paid next spring. While he played well for the Chargers last season, he also only played eight games because of injury. 2023 really has to be a prove-it year for the former New York Giant.
Regardless of if he does well or poorly, Johnson will likely be leaving the Chargers after 2023 as the team will not be able to afford to pay him and also has youth on the depth chart that will eventually replace him.
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