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Should the Los Angeles Chargers Sign Russell Okung?

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The Los Angeles Chargers certainly need help along the offensive line. Does that mean they should chase the most expensive Left Tackle in free agency?

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NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Russell Okung, former Pro Bowler and all-around solid Offensive Tackle through the majority of his career, is about to become a free agent. Many Los Angeles Chargers fans are excited about this, knowing that the team desperately needs to revamp its offensive line if it wants to compete for a playoff spot in 2017.

So, we come back to the eternal question: Should the Chargers sign this guy who used to be good?

The History

First, consider the fact that the Seattle Seahawks were okay to let Okung walk after six good years as their starting Left Tackle.

Second, consider the fact that the Denver Broncos decided against keeping Okung for a second year after having him take most of the starts at Left Tackle last season.

That is two good teams, two good franchises, telling you to not sign the guy.

The Rating

Pro Football Focus rated Okung as the 38th best Tackle in the NFL last year out of 78 graded Tackles. That puts him squarely in the middle of the pack.

For what it’s worth, that still puts him ahead of King Dunlap (53rd) and Joseph Barksdale (58th).

The Price

Okung signed with the Broncos last year for 5 years and (potentially) $53 million. He’s a year older now, with another year of mediocrity tied to him, so he probably wouldn’t cost that much.

However, he’d probably cost more than the 4 years / $28 million the Chargers agreed to pay Dunlap or the 4 years / $22 million they agreed to pay Barksdale.

The Situation

As I have previously stated, the team is kinda stuck with the offensive line they have now unless they want to use a 1st Round draft pick in the 2017 NFL Draft on an offensive lineman.

I am sure the team is hoping that Max Tuerk can take over at either Center or Guard to replace the gap left after they release D.J. Fluker, but that’s not a given. If it were to happen, they could financially make an Okung signing work, but there are probably things higher on their priority list (like re-signing Melvin Ingram at twice what he was making last year).

The Other Options

If the Chargers were ready to move on from Dunlap and confident in Tuerk (or Donavon Clark), they could use the $10 million or so in cap space after cutting Dunlap and Fluker on a free agent to come and play Left Tackle.

The team could also look to sign a Right Tackle instead, knowing that Barksdale played well at Left Tackle in 2015 (at least as well as he played Right Tackle), since that free agent market seems to have a few more potential steals available.

Finally, the team could opt to go crazy. What does crazy look like? It looks like signing no new starters to the offensive line. They could release D.J. Fluker and King Dunlap, move Orlando Franklin to Right Tackle (where he has played most of his career), move Joseph Barksdale to Left Tackle, and rely on both Tuerk and Clark to work out as the team’s starting Guards.

Anyway, back to the original question...