The San Diego Chargers were decimated last season at the offensive line position. The team was supposed to get a productive year from the revamped line, but D.J. Fluker, King Dunlap and Orlando Franklin all missed time with injuries.
Chris Watt was injured early on and lost for the year as well. Watt was the starting center at the beginning of the season and his injury was huge. The team had to scramble to realign their offensive squad and the result was a mess. Chris Hairston and Joe Barksdale stepped in and saved the Chargers, but the team played with no continuity on the offensive line. That resulted in a horrible rookie year for Melvin Gordon and the Chargers offense.
After the retirement of Nick Hardwick the Chargers desperately needed a center and Watt was put into that role. Watt was drafted as a guard but made the transition. Hairston performed well after Watt’s injury but the Chargers could surely use some help at this vital position. There are some options on the open market and a former division rival might be a great fit for the team.
Stefen Wisniewski was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the second round (48th overall) of the 2011 draft. He started out his first three seasons by being one of the most dominant centers in the league. He played four seasons in total in Oakland before signing a one year deal in Jacksonville last season.
His play in recent years has been described as average, but he is still only 27 years old (when season starts) and could be a candidate for a bounce back year. The Chargers and Philip Rivers could really get the most out of this young man.
Wiesniewski graded out as Pro Football Reference’s #18 center in the league last year. That is not good, but he did play in all 16 games for the Jaguars. In fact in his five seasons in the league he has only missed three games and hasn’t missed a game since 2013. That in itself is a very valuable commodity for the Chargers while looking for help.
Wisniewski comes from a football family as well as his dad Leo Wisniewski was a nose tackle for the Colts and his uncle Steve Wisniewski was an Oakland Raiders offensive lineman. His uncle was well-known for being one of the dirtiest players of his time and he had many battles with the Chargers defensive line during his 13 year career.
Stefen Wisniewski is not known as a dirty player, but he does have an edge to his game. He is a terrific run blocker and could big huge for Melvin Gordon in the running game. Gordon needs an offensive line that opens holes and Wisniewski can certainly do that.
The lineman signed a one year deal late in the offseason last year with the Jaguars. He was coming off shoulder surgery and agreed to a one year deal at a two and a half million dollars. He will likely command somewhere around that price tag (for multiple seasons) and could be a steal because of his young age and high ceiling.
This center is durable and that could be really useful for a Chargers team that got hurt with injury after injury last season. He would not command as much salary as say Alex Mack from the Browns either. The Chargers should at least kick the tires on the lineman for sure. This is the time of the year where you can acquire some players at a great value. Hopefully Tom Telesco and the Chargers front office is doing their homework.