Bolts Notebook: Starks the Solution?

Would Tom Telesco have been better off leaving Max Starks for somebody else to sign? Are the Chargers missing a golden opportunity while Quentin Jammer remains unsigned? Which position groups are set up for the most intense offseason battles? The answers inside this week's Bolts Notebook.

What's left at tackle?

The Chargers finally addressed their need at left tackle, agreeing to terms on a one-year contract with Max Starks, the best free agent left on the market.

Starks has allowed 5.7 sacks per 16 games played over the course of his nine-year career. That is right on pace with the six sacks King Dunlap allowed as Philadelphia's left tackle in 2012. Starks and Dunlap will both battle for the starting position, leaving Mike Harris to scrap for a place on the roster.

Kevin Haslam was released on Tuesday.

It is too early to tell if Harris has a future in the league. He yielded 10 sacks in 15 games played last season (nine starts). He gets a bit of a pass because he was a rookie making the move from college right tackle to pro left tackle.

Philip Rivers will sleep better knowing he has a pair of veterans vying to protect his blindside. The added insurance provided by Starks -- who started all 16 games at left tackle in 2012 -- cannot be overstated.

That being said, the Chargers have sacrificed the chance to continue to develop Harris for the future, instead turning to a couple of mid-card talents. Next offseason, Telesco will be back at the drawing board trying to land a new, better left tackle.

Where is the love?

Quentin Jammer has made it clear he plans to play in 2013. And while he anticipates signing with a new team, he says he has had preliminary talks with the Chargers and would "love to come back."

Telesco has passed on re-signing most free agents originally brought in by his predecessors, ranging from young studs (Louis Vasquez) to productive, discounted veterans (Shaun Phillips). Signing Jammer would be a strong departure from that trend. Nonetheless, this move makes too much sense not to consider.

Jammer could return and make the long anticipated switch to strong safety, where the Chargers are counting on converted cornerback Marcus Gilchrist, still-mending Brandon Taylor (ACL) and special-teams ace Darrell Stuckey. Jammer could also return to cornerback in a pinch, which is reassuring seeing as Derek Cox is the only cornerback on the roster (other than Gilchrist) to have ever started more than one game in the NFL.

Inside Jobs

With the roster basically set and offseason workouts underway, the two areas to keep an eye on are the interior offensive line and inside linebacker.

Chad Rinehart, who came over from Buffalo with line coach Joe D'Alessandris, and converted tackle Jeromey Clary are working with the first unit for now. But they will be pushed hard by Johnnie Troutman, a 2012 fifth-round pick who red-shirted his rookie year due to a pectoral injury, and Rich Ohrnberger, who started four games last season for Ken Whisenhunt in Arizona.

The competition is just as intense at inside linebacker, although the starting jobs there are more settled (Donald Butler and Manti Te'o). Jonas Mouton, a second-round pick in 2011, is being given a fresh start by the new regime, but he must quickly do something with the opportunity. There's also D.J. Smith, who started nine games over the last couple seasons for the Green Bay Packers but it coming off ACL surgery.

Andrew Gachkar and Bront Bird will also make strong pushes for roster spots. Gachkar is one of San Diego's best special teams performers. Bird is also strong on special teams and has a knack for always being around the football.



Were the Chargers wise to sign Starks? Talk about it inside the message boards.



Michael Lombardo is a long-time contributor to the Scout.com network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 16 years and covered the team since 2003. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.


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