If the San Diego Chargers had one area of the field they’d like to drastically improve heading into the 2013 season, it has to be the offensive line, which was simply terrible last year, and targeting Sam Baker of the Atlanta Falcons in free agency seems like the best way to go about it.
Baker, 27, had a very good 2012 and generally career with the Atlanta Falcons, playing as the left tackle protecting Matt Ryan through the years. It will give the Chargers and offensive lineman for years, with wealth of successful experience in protecting a franchise quarterback. Philip Rivers was sacked 49 times last season (4th worst in the NFL), and a lot of the problems came from the left tackle position.
The Chargers do have to think about Louis Vasquez, who is drawing interest from about half the teams in the NFL, or anyone with a guard problem at least, and he should be their first re-signing thought when they wake up in the morning, but fixing the offensive line, which might use three new starters, seems like too big of an issue to simply wait for the draft and hope for good players to fall beyond the first round.
While the NFL draft is pretty deep in tackles, addressing their LT problem seems to be too great to delay for draft night. The Chargers aren’t in the greatest position in terms of cap space, but can afford one big signing with Baker if they choose not to re-sign Jared Gaither, who doesn’t look like the direction they need to go in if they want a future with Philip Rivers having time to throw in the pocket and not get crushed and hurried last season.
While Baker isn’t the only option – there’s Jake Long and Jermon Bushrod also hitting the open market most likely, he’s probably the best of what the Chargers have to sort through, and would be wise to try and sign him as soon as possible.