Roman Gladiator Oben to tackle Chargers woes

The San Diego Chargers added Roman Oben from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday; consummating a deal they had been working on for a couple of weeks. While the move flew under the radar, it is the type of shrewd decision that has given A.J. Smith backing from the fans and media alike.

Instead of spending huge for a tackle, which is painfully easy to do, A.J. Smith went out and found a high character guy, whose off the field antics and blemishes include his tremendous work in the field of community service. In other words, he is another guy who has the ability to lead.

And Tampa Bay head coach Jon Gruden agrees, "He did a great job for us and was a leader here. I think the situation in San Diego is good for him because they need his help."

The Chargers sure did need his help. They were perilously close to fielding a relatively green offensive line. And Oben will step in and not only start, but with nine years of experience he will be able to teach as well.

Oben is already being penciled in at left tackle and that will allow Courtney Van Buren to move back to the right side of the line after working out on the left side the last couple of weeks. It instantly improves the depth as well and makes it possible, should Toniu Fonoti be unfit to go, for some shuffling along the line.

"He is a left tackle," head coach Marty Schottenheimer assured. "That is where he has played before and my expectation is that's where he will be with us."

For a fifth round pick, the addition of a pass protector on the blind side with some experience is invaluable. There had been a growing sentiment that it would be unfair to throw quarterback Philip Rivers to the wolves with the line they had in place. Now, however, they may be setting up to do just that.

"He is a very experienced player," Schottenheimer said. "He has played throughout his career relatively healthy, been a starter on Championship football teams, brings some experience to our offensive line."

Oben is now the elder statesman of the line. With Goff the veteran on one side of the line and Oben now manning the other, the Chargers should be well balanced, especially if the team can get Jason Ball back into action.

Oben is scheduled to make $3.3 million over the next three years. A true left tackle that won't break the bank and provides a bridge until the next guy is ready, a guy who may not be on the current roster.

The view from Cleveland, his former team, courtesy of Bernie's Insiders:

"Oben was a well-paid free agent who was intended to solidify the offensive tackle position in Cleveland after Lomas Brown left town. When the line proved less-than-spectacular even with the money spent on Oben, he was jettisoned like a lot of pre-Davis players. Realistically, though, Oben didn't get a fair shake in Cleveland. He was paired up with inexperienced, below-average, left guards (e.g., Jim Bundren) and simply couldn't overcome the lack of skill elsewhere on the offensive line. He later wound up with Tampa Bay, and was good enough to start on the offensive line of that Super Bowl team, so that probably tells you that his quick exit from Cleveland isn't a true indicator of his abilities."


Schottenheimer made it clear that the team was still looking for upgrades along the offensive line and with the wide receiving group. Given the recent problems down in Dallas, is another deal far behind?

"I think we have to make sure we don't overlook any opportunities that may be available to us in the acquisition of players, offensive line, wide receiver – those are the two areas we are looking at."

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