San Diego Chargers: Kris Dielman Retirement Could Change Everything

Justin PenicheCorrespondent IFebruary 28, 2012

SAN DIEGO, CA - NOVEMBER 29:  Kris Dielman #68 of the San Diego Chargers enters the game against the Kansas City Chiefs during the NFL game on November 29, 2009 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

San Diego Chargers beat writer Kevin Acee is very tentatively reporting that offensive lineman Kris Dielman is leaning towards retirement. 

Acee previously reported that sources told him Dielman wanted to play in 2012.  Dielman's desire to return has not changed but doing so appears to be against the advice of physicians that have been evaluating him since he suffered a concussion and subsequent grand mal seizure in late October.

Dielman is expected to notify the Chargers of his decision soon as to provide them with sufficient time to strategize for free agency and the draft. 

If Dielman does retire, it will significantly change the Chargers' priorities for 2012.  His departure would simultaneously create a massive hole on the left side of the line and free up additional salary to retain and pursue free agents. 

Dielman has played nine seasons all with the Chargers and has been selected to four Pro Bowls.  He started at least 14 games for six consecutive seasons before missing the last 10 games in 2011 due to injury. 

With Dielman gone, the Chargers would feel additional pressure to re-sign center Nick Hardwick and left tackle Jared Gaither in order to maintain stability on an offensive line that is currently in a very delicate state. 

The team could use some of Dielman's $4.5 million salary to secure free agents Vincent Jackson, Mike Tolbert or Antonio Garay. 

Dielman's decision also affects the Chargers' priorities heading into the draft.  With Dielman, Louis Vasquez and Tyronne Green all under contract the Chargers could have waited until later in the draft to add depth.  With Dielman's departure, the team would have to seriously consider taking an offensive guard in the first few rounds. 

Green has been a reliable back up starting 15 games the past two seasons, but even if the Chargers felt he was ready to start it would still leave the team painfully thin at guard.  Vasquez has missed 10 starts the past three seasons.