MONDAY, 1:24pm: The Chargers have officially confirmed their two-year agreement with Slauson in an announcement on their website.
SATURDAY, 3:08pm: The first of Matt Slauson‘s two visits has turned into his new NFL home, with the Chargers and the free agent interior lineman agreeing to terms on a two-year deal, Adam Caplan of ESPN.com tweets.
Released by the Bears on Sunday, Slauson also visited the Bills’ headquarters this week, but left without a contract. The 30-year-old lineman vacillated between his usual left guard spot and the center position in 2015, with Pro Football Focus giving the newest Charger its fifth-best grade among snappers last season.
The Chargers have highly paid Orlando Franklin at left guard and D.J. Fluker at right guard, and the team just picked up Fluker’s fifth-year option. Slauson’s temporary position of center could be a longer-term project for the former Jets draft chioce. Chris Watt resides there in San Diego and is probably the most vulnerable of the Chargers’ starters right now.
Caplan confirms (on Twitter) that Slauson, who played half of last season as the Bears’ center, is being brought in to play the same position in San Diego. The Bills, interestingly, also didn’t want Slauson to play at this customary guard spot either. Buffalo sought him as a right tackle option, Caplan reports (on Twitter).
The Bears signed Manny Ramirez and Ted Larsen before drafting Cody Whitehair in the second round. They decided to cut ties with Slauson despite the productive lineman having two years left on his deal. He assumed snapping duties to start last season due to rookie Hroniss Grasu‘s injury. Once Grasu returned, Slauson shuttled back to left guard, where he’d played since signing with Chicago in 2013.
A 6-foot-5, 320-pound performer, Slauson worked with new Chargers offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo with the Jets in 2012.
Pro Football Focus rated the Chargers as having the NFL’s worst offensive front last season. Franklin, Fluker, Watt and left tackle King Dunlap suffered through injuries to limit their effectiveness, and the group’s regression mirrored the team’s descent into last place in the AFC West. Many experts expected the Chargers to select a tackle with their No. 3 overall pick that emerged out of last season’s mess, but San Diego selected Joey Bosa instead and left the line unchanged, likely hoping health would provide enough of an upgrade.
Concussion and shoulder troubles resulted in Watt spending the second half of last season on IR, with replacement Trevor Robinson rating as PFF’s worst overall offensive lineman among regulars. The Chargers have a lot of money tied up in their offensive line after agreeing to long-term deals with Franklin and Joe Barksdale the past two offseasons, along with extending Dunlap and triggering Fluker’s fifth-year option. They now look to have supplied that group with a quality center to belatedly replace the retired Nick Hardwick.
Photo courtesy USA Today Sports Images