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The future of the Chargers’ offensive line

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Do the San Diego Chargers have the ability to improve their offensive line this offseason? Not so fast, my friends!

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at San Diego Chargers Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

As I said in a podcast earlier this morning, the San Diego Chargers offensive line stinks. It’s not good!

The really bad thing about the situation is that, outside of one player (who we’ll get to in a moment), each of them is vastly overpaid with price tags that are going up.

Let’s do this on a case-by-case basis:

King Dunlap

Pro Football Focus Ranking: 49th
2016 cap hit: $5,143,750
2017 cap hit: $8,375,000
Total contract value: 4 years / $28,000,000 (signed in 2015)

This is a bad time to be King Dunlap and a worse time to be his employer. The first two years of his deal were relative steals, but now is when the raise kicks in. His salary and bonuses are jumping more than 50% and it goes up even more in 2018.

What would it cost to cut him?

It would cost the Chargers $3,250,000 to cut Dunlap before June 1st, 2017. It would “save” them $5,125,000, but then you have to go try and find a starting Left Tackle to replace Dunlap for that money....or you risk cutting into your 2017 cap even more than if you had kept Dunlap.

Orlando Franklin

Pro Football Focus Ranking: 72nd
2016 cap hit: $7,200,000
2017 cap hit: $7,600,000
Total contract value: 5 years / $36,500,000 (signed in 2015)

Franklin almost appeared to be worth this contract when he signed it, but the Denver Broncos were on to something when they moved him from Tackle to Guard before letting him walk in free agency.

What would it cost to cut him?

It would cost the Chargers $4,800,000 to cut Franklin before June 1st, 2017. It would “save” them $2,800,000, which means you’re either cutting into the 2017 cap to find a guard or you’re really happy with the idea of Donovan Clark as the starting Left Guard.

Matt Slauson

Pro Football Focus Ranking: 20th
2016 cap hit: $1,200,000
2017 cap hit: $1,800,000
Total contract value: 2 years / $3,000,000 (signed in 2016)

If I were Matt Slauson or his agent, I’d be going mental over this contract. Without a doubt, Slauson has been the best offensive lineman on San Diego this season and the amount of money he made this season and is set to make next year is laughable compared to the guys he’s playing with.

What would it cost to cut him?

Don’t cut Matt Slauson!

D.J. Fluker

Pro Football Focus Ranking: 63rd
2016 cap hit: $3,628,067
2017 cap hit: $8,821,000
Total contract value: 4 years / $11,402,498

Fluker’s contract comes with a team option for 2017, which would be that $8.8M number. Seeing as how Fluker has not been very good, I can’t imagine the team would be picking up that option.

What would it cost to cut him?

Absolutely nothing. Zero. Zilch. It’s $8,821,000 in pure savings, in terms of both cash and cap.

If D.J. Fluker is still wearing a Chargers uniform in 2017, and I don’t believe he will be, expect it to be on some sort of contract extension that pays him a lot less than $8 million per year.

Joe Barksdale

Pro Football Focus Ranking: 62nd
2016 cap hit: $4,550,000
2017 cap hit: $5,550,000
Total contract value: 4 years / $22,200,000

One year into this contract is too soon to start thinking about ripping it up. If Barksdale can discover the same talent that was on display with the 2015 Chargers, this contract becomes a steal. That being said, there’s a reason they were able to sign him for this amount....

What would it cost to cut him?

Too much, and what I mean by that is the team would already be in negative in terms of cap space if they got rid of Barksdale before June 1st, 2017.

It would cost them $6,000,000 to cut him now against his potential cap hit of $5,550,000. That means, even if you want to go sign or draft Barksdale’s replacement, he’s of more use to you on the bench than he is on the street.


Summary

That was fun, wasn’t it? Do we feel better or worse about the offensive line in 2017?

Well, Fluker and his $8.8M can go and clear the way for something a little better. Although, I’d be surprised if some of that money doesn’t end up in Slauson’s pocket.

Unfortunately, I think the team is stuck contractually with Dunlap and Franklin on the left side and Barksdale at Right Tackle, which means the offensive line woes that have doomed the last few seasons probably aren’t going away in 2017, no matter how far away the Chargers move as an organization.