The LA Chargers have several roster needs that must be addressed this offseason and with the second-most cap space in the NFL and the 2022 NFL Draft, the team has several avenues to pursue in the positions that they decide to upgrade. Some will be via free agency, others will be in the draft.
One of the most interesting positions this offseason will be the right tackle position. The team needs to replace Bryan Bulaga, who is going to be cut and cannot just run Storm Norton out there again. Getting a solid right tackle and right guard (even if that is re-signing Oday Aboushi) will give the Chargers the potential of having a top-tier line in 2022.
Some want to see the Chargers draft a right tackle early in the 2022 NFL Draft, going back-to-back years with an offensive tackle in the first round. Personally, I think it is more likely that the Bolts sign a free agent and instead use the early portions of the draft to address holes on the defensive side of the ball. In fact, there is one free agent I have in mind that the Bolts should be all-in on.
The LA Chargers should be all-in on signing Trent Brown in free agency this offseason.
Trent Brown is a six-eight right tackle that is coming from the New England Patriots but also spent time with the Raiders and 49ers. He has had four different stints with three different teams in his young NFL career but has been solid when he is on the field.
Brown was a Pro-Bowler in 2019 and he played well in the nine games that he played for the Patriots this season. Brown allowed just nine pressures in 252 pass-blocking snaps and received Pro Football Focus grades of 81.2 in pass-blocking and 71.6 in run-blocking (although PFF grades are by no means the end-all, say-all).
The risk with Brown is his availability as he has not been able to put together a full season in recent years. As a Charger fan that just watched Storm Norton start an entire season because of Bryan Bulaga, I completely understand if someone is completely out on Brown because of that fact alone.
He last played a full season in 2018 in what was his first stint with the New England Patriots. In 2019 he played 11 games with the Raiders, in 2020 he played five games with the Raiders and in 2021 he played nine games with the Patriots. While that is concerning, I do not think it is a constant trend that should be all-that worrisome.
In 2019 he was shut down at the end of the year because of a pectoral injury that was completely healed in time for 2020. The Raiders were not in the hunt and it seemed like a precautionary move more than anything. It was minor.
In 2020 Brown was just dealt a horrible hand. Brown missed several games on the COVID-19 list and then missed even more games when an IV caused air to get into his bloodstream in what was an absolute freak accident. You cannot hold that against Brown.
The most concerning injury in terms of recurring came in 2021 as Brown suffered a calf injury that resulted in him missing eight games. However, when Brown played in 2021 he was still really good so there is promising signs that the calf is fully healed.
Is it a risky move? Yes. However, so is drafting a first-round tackle as we have seen time and time again there are first-round offensive linemen that simply don't pan out. If Brown was expected to get a huge contract then the Chargers should instantly be out. However, after being made the highest-paid offensive lineman in the league from the Raiders, Brown is not going to need the money as much and his market value is not as high.
PFF projects Brown to get a two-year, $20 million contract with $15 million guaranteed. The Chargers can front-load the guaranteed money to around $11 million this season with only $4 million guaranteed next year. That gives the team leeway to cut him if they need to.
It is a one-year flier by the Chargers that could turn into a two-year commitment. I still think the Chargers should draft a right tackle in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft, as evident from my first mock draft of the season. It is obviously less likely that you are going to land a home run in round three, but you can still land a starting-caliber right tackle that can step in in case of emergency. And if not, you simply develop that tackle behind Brown until it is time to turn the reins over.