Russell Okung, Chargers Agree to 4-Year Contract

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist

Denver Broncos offensive tackle Russell Okung plays against the Houston Texans during the first half of an NFL football game, Monday, Oct. 24, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Chargers announced they added a veteran presence to their offensive line, signing tackle Russell Okung to a four-year deal.

The contract is worth $53 million and includes $25 million guaranteed, ESPN's Josina Anderson reported Thursday.

This comes after the Denver Broncos didn't pick up his contract option for the 2017 season. He signed a one-year deal with Denver before the 2016 campaign that included a team option of $48 million over the following four years.

Okung negotiated that Denver deal himself without an agent.

"Russell has been a productive and efficient tackle in this league for a very long time," head coach Anthony Lynn said, per the team's announcement. "He is an athletic tackle who will bring leadership to our team. We see him being a cornerstone on our offensive line for years to come, and we're thrilled to add him to the Chargers."

The offensive tackle entered the league as the No. 6 overall pick in 2010 and spent the first six seasons of his career with the Seattle Seahawks before his one season with Denver.

According to Conor Orr of NFL.com, Pro Football Focus ranked Okung as the 38th-best offensive tackle in the league in 2016. That isn't inspiring, and he was part of an offensive line in Denver that struggled on the way to being Football Outsiders' 18th-best run-blocking unit and 27th-best pass-blocking unit.

Despite some inconsistency last year, Okung is just 29 years old and made the Pro Bowl in 2012. He also won the Super Bowl in the 2013 season with the Seahawks and can provide veteran leadership and postseason experience to the Chargers.

Staying healthy and avoiding penalties will be critical this year for the tackle. The 2016 season was the first time he played all 16 games on the schedule, and he committed 11 accepted penalties during that span, per Pro Football Reference.

If he can mitigate those penalty issues and remain on the field, Okung is still in his prime and can build on his first full healthy season for a Chargers offensive line that was a disappointing 23rd in the league in run blocking and 24th in pass blocking in 2016, per Football Outsiders.

Los Angeles is in a loaded AFC West division that features returning playoff teams in the Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs and a Broncos squad that won a Super Bowl within the last two years. The only way to realistically compete is improving those offensive line totals. Adding a veteran like Okung is a step in the right direction.


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