The LA Chargers are not in a great salary-cap situation this offseason. After a splashy offseason a year ago, the Bolts enter this spring needing to free up over $20 million in salary-cap space, per Over The Cap.
Los Angeles has several impending free agents to potentially re-sign as well. Drue Tranquill and Trey PIpkins headline that list and there is a real possibility that the Bolts get priced out of both guys in the free-agent market.
The Chargers can free up enough money to re-sign at least one of the two players as well as 2-3 cheap free agents. That could lead to a decision between Tranquill and Pipkins, which is a very tough decision to make.
Well, another wrench has been thrown into the mix that could help dictate the Chargers' decision. Right tackle La'El Collins has been named as a prime candidate to be released by the Cincinnati Bengals to allow the team to free up salary-cap space.
NFL Rumors: La'El Collins has ties to the Chargers via Kellen Moore
Collins spent his entire career with the Dallas Cowboys until he signed with the Cincinnati Bengals last offseason. This gave him multiple years under offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, who now has the same role with the LA Chargers.
While Collins has signed big contracts in the past, the fact that he is now a cap casualty may lend himself to being a cheaper target. With Trey Pipkins being younger and having fewer health concerns, he may end up going for more on the free-agent market. If he does, the Chargers could potentially pivot to Collins if he is indeed cheaper.
This would give the team more long-term flexibility as well. Collins would likely sign a short-term deal whereas Pipkins should be getting a three-year deal at the very least. While this does not lock in the starting offensive line for multiple years, it does give the team more flexibility in future years.
Pipkins is still the better option and if the two tackles cost the same then the Chargers should prioritize Pipkins. However, there could now be a potential free agent replacement with ties to the team that actually makes sense.
If Pipkins ends up walking the Bolts are either going to sign someone for cheaper or are going to draft a tackle in the first two rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft. Many fans may prefer the former after back-to-back years of taking an offensive lineman in the first round.