Future Free Agents: Offensive Guards

With D-Day, known to the San Diego Chargers as Dielman-Day, fast approaching, the Bolts could find themselves set at offensive guard or scrambling for talent. The available talent at guard in the free-agent market runs the gamut, from the up-and-coming youngsters to the wily old veterans. Will the Chargers be in the bidding for one of these 25 or more possibilities or lock up their own?

In two seasons as a starter with the Charges, Kris Dielman has been part of the offensive line that has consistently sprung LaDainian Tomlinson. With 29 starts in the last two years and time entering the market as an unrestricted free agent, there should be strong interest in his services. It's time to warm up the fax machine for the offers and open up a tax-friendly account.

But the Chargers have time to seal him up - similar to how he plus holes. With the signing of linebacker Shaun Phillips, Dielman is a priority. He has been touted as one of the best guards in the league because of his aggressive nature and nasty play. Losing him could be a blow to an offense that has hummed nicely over the last two seasons.

On the other side, Mike Goff holds down the fort. The veteran has been often called the glue of the line for his smart decision-making and ability to lift his teammates to greater heights. His work between youngsters Nick Hardwick and Shane Olivea has made the right side of the line formidable.

Goff is, however, getting up there in age and entering the final year of his current contract. The Bolts may seek to give him more competiiton.

Scott Mruczkowski is the backup at both guard positions and the former seventh round pick also has a nasty streak. He started in Dielman's place in week 11 against Oakland and performed admirably. He might be looked at more if Dielman moves on and could scuffle with Goff for more playing time.

The Bolts will suffer a blow if they can't lockup Dielman - the former defensive tackle is reportedly asking for big dollars but he is a key cog in their offensive wheel.

The Chargers were active at the Senior Bowl - eyeing offensive line prospects. Wether that is a foreshadow of things to come will be clear soon.

If the Bolts don't sign Dielman, there are plenty of options on the free agent market:

Eric Steinbach, Cincinnati Bengals – Steinbach, along with Dielman, could be one of the most sought-after free-agent linemen on the market. He isn't expected to return to Cincinnati, and already teams are reportedly interested in signing him once the market opens on March 2. He's been a full-time starter since his 2003 rookie season, and this will be his first foray into the open market.

Chris Gray, Seattle Seahawks – Gray has helped Shaun Alexander make his mark on the NFL, but after 14 seasons (10 of them with 10 or more starts), Gray has to be considered in his twilight years. If he doesn't re-sign with the Hawks, he's likely a stopgap player for a team looking for a starter for a year or two with developmental talent in waiting.

Sean Mahan, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Mahan, a 6-3, 301-pound guard, has worked his way into a starting role with the Bucs in the last three years after spending his rookie season without a start. He's young, emerging and unrestricted. The Bucs are expected to make an attempt to keep him.

Ruben Brown, Chicago Bears – The former Buffalo Bill and current Bear has been a starter since his rookie season, but the problem is that rookie season came in 1995. That's a lot of wear and tear on an offensive lineman, but it's also a lot of experience. He has started every game he has played – and that's 173 for those counting. He has expressed a strong desire to return to the Bears.

Derrick Dockery, Washington Redskins – The 6-6, 335-pounder is another career-long starter, but his advantage is that career is only four years old. He is entering his first opportunity as an unrestricted free agent, and could find a sweet deal with many teams ready to spend.

Cosey Coleman, Cleveland Browns – Coleman has already gone through his first round of unrestricted free agency and moved from Tampa Bay to Cleveland. The seven-year veteran has been a six-year starter, ever since a season of training in his rookie year of 2007.

Cooper Carlisle, Denver Broncos
Rick DeMulling, Detroit Lions
Anthony Herrera, Minnesota Vikings (restricted)
Montrae Holland, New Orleans Saints
Corey Hulsey, Oakland Raiders
Kendyl Jacox, Miami Dolphins
Lewis Kelly, New York Giants
Scott Kooistra. Cincinnati Bengals
Ryan Lilja, Indianapolis Colts (restricted)
Chris Liwienski, Arizona Cardinals
Vincent Manuwai, Jacksonville Jaguars
Scott Peters, Carolina Panthers
Grey Ruegamer, New York Giants
Jake Scott, Indianapolis Colts (restricted)
Jeb Terry, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (restricted)
Jason Whittle, Minnesota Vikings
Floyd Womack, Seattle Seahawks

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