Steal of a Diel!

The Chargers made few waves in free agency, but the re-signing of Kris Dielman caused a cannonball-sized splash that will ripple through the offense for the next six years. Dielman, who was voted co-Lineman of the Year, plays between Pro Bowlers Marcus McNeill and Nick Hardwick on the best left side in football.

Kris Dielman was confident his preseason debut would come in San Diego. He just wasn't sure which team he would be suiting up for when the Chargers entertained the Seattle Seahawks to kick off the summer schedule.

During the offseason, it appeared that the Seahawks would feature Dielman, the Chargers' standout left guard. The Chargers and Seahawks had a heated battle in the offseason for Dielman's services. The converted defensive end, who had become a staple on the Chargers' offensive line, was a free agent. The Seahawks zeroed in on Dielman and looked like they had him. He was dining in a restaurant after his visit to Seattle when a text message came across from his agent. It said the Seahawks were willing to make Dielman one very wealthy man.

But Dielman wanted to give the Chargers one more shot. And while they didn't match the Seahawks, they were close enough to retain him. Despite Seattle's offer being some $10 million richer than the Chargers', Dielman went with the San Diego discount, agreeing to a six-year, $39 million pact.

"This is home; this is where I want to be," Dielman said. "I don't really care what anybody anywhere else has to say. I knew I made the right choice when it happened."

What's happening now is something strange to All-Pro running back LaDainian Tomlinson. For the first time since coming to the Chargers, the entire front line is returning.

And make no mistake, Dielman is a big part of it. While center Nick Hardwick and left tackle Marcus McNeill went to the Pro Bowl, Dielman played at a Pro Bowl level.

Dielman's play didn't go unnoticed by Tomlinson.

"I think it would have been a huge blow," Tomlinson said, regarding Dielman possibly leaving. "We would have definitely missed him. Someone else would have had to step in and try to play up to a guy like Dielman's standards, which is pretty hard.

"Not only is he a talented player, but his mental attitude is hard to replace."

Dielman's mettle -- he was once cut -- was molded by his unlikely route to NFL riches.

"It definitely wasn't an easy road to take. I didn't get nothing handed to me. I'm very proud of the fact that I was able to fight through it and make something out of it."

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