Jared Gaither has been ruled out for week 1 with back spasms, particularly concerning because back spasms are a lingering problem and Gaither missed about a half and a year with back problems from 2010-2011. However, when asked about putting Gaither on IR, Head Coach Norv Turner said “I think that’s way premature.” I agree it is, but it’s definitely a concerning situation.
Failing to get a reliable backup for their unable blindside protector, undrafted free agent Mike Harris will start on the blindside for as long as Gaither, who hasn’t suited up in 6 weeks, is out. I don’t need to know you that’s a problem. He figures to be one of three big holes on the Chargers’ offensive line. Left guard Tyronne Green will take over full-time for the retired Kris Dielman. Green struggled in limited action last year in place of Dielman. He rated 61st out of 76 guards on ProFootballFocus despite only really playing half the season.
Right tackle Jeromey Clary has been awful for years. He was horrific last season, allowing 7 sacks, 7 quarterback hits, 42 quarterback pressures, and committing 11 penalties, while struggling as a run blocker. He was ProFootballFocus’ 71st rated offensive tackle out of 73. Right guard Louis Vasquez and center Nick Hardwick are solid starters, but Philip Rivers will be under pressure a lot this year.
When healthy, Gaither is an elite left tackle. With the Ravens, in 2009, he allowed just 4 sacks, 3 quarterback hits, and 6 quarterback pressures, while committing 10 penalties in 13 games and in 2008, he allowed just 2 sacks, 2 quarterback hits, and 22 quarterback pressures, while committing 15 penalties in 19 games. Gaither was amazing in 5 starts last season for the Chargers, after being cut midseason by the Chiefs. He didn’t allow a sack or quarterback hit and only allowed 3 quarterback pressures, while committing just 3 penalties.
The Chargers rewarded him with a 4 year, 24.6 million dollar deal with 13.5 million guaranteed this offseason. That may seem like a lot to pay, but franchise left tackles do not grow on trees. There’s a reason they’re never available on the open market. Seeing one available is almost as rare as seeing a franchise quarterback on the open market. If Gaither were to stay healthy, that deal would have been a steal. However, now it’s looking like that could very well not happen.