After arguably the most aggressive offseason in franchise history, the LA Chargers are going to have to pinch pennies this spring. Los Angeles has to free up over $20 million to become cap complacent this offseason with additional space needed to sign the team's draft class.
While the team does not have any superstar free agents this offseason, there are some notable players that may end up leaving if the Bolts cannot afford to bring them back. Perhaps the most notable is right tackle Trey Pipkins, who is coming off of a career year in 2022.
Re-signing Pipkins could lock in the Chargers' five starting offensive linemen for multiple years, which is something that felt impossible three years ago. However, there is a very real possibility that the Bolts will have to pivot and come up with a plan to replace Pipkins.
2 ways the Chargers can replace Trey Pipkins:
Both avenues to potentially replace Trey Pipkins come in the 2023 NFL Draft. While similar, there is a very different approach in both situations to handle a potential Pipkins' departure.
1. Draft a tackle in the first two rounds
If the LA Chargers are going to turn to a rookie right tackle then they are going to have to draft them in the first two rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft. While there are always some mid-to-late-round prospects that work out, the best value to get an offensive lineman is in the top 50 picks.
Taking a first-round tackle might be the boring approach and there would be a good number of fans that would be frustrated with the team taking an offensive lineman in the first round three years in a row. That being said, if the Chargers draft another valuable prospect then they will have the best young offensive line in the entire league.
If Pipkins leaves and the plan is to replace him with a rookie then you can pencil in a tackle in one of the first two rounds. But the team can also move some offensive linemen around to potentially draft a prospect in a later round.
2. Play Jamaree Salyer at right tackle, draft a guard in round 3 or 4
Jamaree Salyer was drafted to be a guard in the NFL but proved that he was able to be an NFL tackle when he was thrust into the starting left tackle spot. The best-case scenario would be Salyer starting at left guard with Pipkins at right tackle. But without PIpkins, we could see Salyer back at tackle on the other side.
There is more positional value in getting an interior lineman deeper in the draft. It is easier to find a starting-quality guard and the LA would be getting excellent positional value out of having two cheap, talented starting tackles.
This path would allow the Chargers to draft positions such as wide receiver and edge rusher in the first two rounds with a guard being the primary need in the third or fourth round.