It is no secret that the Los Angeles Chargers offensive line is not good. Like ranked 32nd in Pro Football Focus’ end of 2020 offensive line rankings not good. Bringing in Trai Turner and Bryan Bulaga was supposed to make the line better. But with injuries and poor play that didn’t happen.
So who should the Chargers target this off-season?
There are a couple of “minor” things to take into account:
- Offensive line coach James Campen is out.
- The Chargers currently have $23,747,648 in salary cap to work with according to spotrac.com.
- The Chargers have the 13th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. They have eight total picks, and four picks in rounds three and four.
Offensive Line 2020 Stats
Quarterback Justin Herbert was sacked 26 times in 12 starts. He was under pressure on 230 dropbacks. That was the second-most of any quarterback in 2020. Fortunately, he had the league-best passer rating on those plays, 99.4. That doesn’t mitigate the fact that the franchise quarterback was running for his life, a lot.
Turner, who takes up 6.28% of the salary cap, was the lowest graded right guard in the league at 34.8 (salary cap info per spotrac.com—grades from PFF.com).
Bulaga, who commands 6.05% of the salary cap, earned a 61.6 overall grade and was ranked 29th at the right tackle position.
The highest-graded offensive lineman on the Chargers was Storm Norton with a 65.1 grade (he takes up 0.43% of the salary cap).
Chargers Free Agents On The Offensive Line
Players In Free Agency The Chargers Should Target
3. Guard, Joe Thuney, New England Patriots
It is quite possible that Thuney and Brandon Scherff of the Washington Football Team command more money than the Chargers are willing to put out for the position. Both players played under the franchise tag last season, earning $14.78 million.
Thuney has proven himself durable and reliable. He allowed two sacks and two hits during the 2020 season. He was on the field for 980 snaps while only allowing 17 pressures.
Pro Football Focus has him graded at 73.1 for pass blocking, 70.2 in run blocking, and a 74.2 overall.
The Patriots, in what can only be described as a rebuild, are more likely to let Thuney walk than the WFT who are feeling a resurgence. It also helps that the WFT has the fifth-highest cap space, with $43,525,860 to spend.
2. Center, Corey Linsley, Green Bay Packers
The Chargers go once again to the Packers pipeline to get their center. There is an injury concern as Linsley injured his knee on November 29th and was placed on IR. Before the injury, he was the highest-graded center per Pro Football Focus.
In the 11 games before the injury, he had zero penalties and had given up only one sack and two total pressures.
Spotrac has his market value for the season set at $9.7 million. According to Overthecap.com, the Packers are currently over the cap by $28,759,729 million, with a ton of players about to enter the free-agent market.
1. Tackle, Alejandro Villaneuva, Pittsburgh Steelers
Villaneuva is 32 years old and has played his entire career with the Steelers. He has started every game for five straight seasons with the Steelers, all the while playing on a “home-team” discount.
For the 2020 season, Pro Football Focus graded him 74 overall, 77.1 in pass blocking, and 60.9 in run blocking. He allowed three sacks, 13 quarterback hits, and 43 total pressures.
He is currently ranked as the fourth-best left tackle, which will bring his market value around $16.5 million.
With the 13th selection overall, the Chargers may be able to pick up a good offensive lineman in this year’s draft. Although the consensus is that the best offensive tackle, Oregon’s Penei Sewell, will not last beyond the 10th pick; there is still Virginia’s Christian Darrisaw and Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater.
Darrisaw is better with the zone run scheme which makes Slater who has the flexibility to play multiple positions seem like the perfect fit for the Chargers needs.
The Offensive Line
The offensive line has been the Achilles heel for the Chargers for some time now. Their ineptness is often times hidden by the efficiency of the quarterback and the sheer volume of injuries sustained by the Chargers as a team.
The Cap Space
While the Chargers have the seventh-most cap space, (according to Over the Cap) they also have several key players going into free agency, including tight end Hunter Henry, which seems like a no-brainer to get under contract.