Trey Pipkins was arguably the most important internal free agent that the LA Chargers had entering the 2023 offseason. After drafting Pipkins as a developmental tackle in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft, he actually finally developed into an above-average starting right tackle in 2022.
The Bolts were able to re-sign Pipkins to a three-year, $21.75 million contract that carries just a $3.75 million cap hit in 2023. This was one of several moves that the Bolts made early in free agency to bring back key free agents from last year's team.
By re-signing Pipkins, the Chargers locked in their starting offensive line for at least the next three seasons. It has been a very long time since the Chargers have had this kind of consistency on the offensive line, which will only lead to great things.
However, before entering the three years of consistency, the Chargers are going to make an offensive line change that not many fans saw coming. The starting offensive line is the same but will undergo some shuffling.
Chargers swap Jamaree Salyer and Zion Johnson on the offensive line.
With this unit being the unit for the next three years, it makes sense to make changes now and get Zion Johnson back on his natural side. Salyer is also playing his more natural side, although he thrived in 2022 when he had to fill in at left tackle.
There might be some early hiccups as Johnson developed great chemistry with Pipkins on the right side and having a familiar dynamic absolutely makes a difference. However, making this change one time before committing to it being the starting offensive line is no problem.
If the Chargers kept shuffling the deck and kept moving Salyer and Johnson on the opposite side then it would be a problem. That would completely remove the consistency that the Chargers worked so hard to create over the last several years.
Overall, this shift is probably going to maximize the ceiling of the offensive line as it puts each player on their natural side and creates some fun partnerships at guard and tackle. For the first time since the mid-2000s, the Chargers might consistently have one of the best offensive lines in the sport.