WEDNESDAY: Dunlap will earn $9MM in the first year, according to Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (on Twitter).
TUESDAY: Dunlap’s extension contains $13MM in guaranteed money, $6.5MM of which comes in the form of a signing bonus, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).
FRIDAY: The Chargers and left tackle King Dunlap have agreed to a four-year extension, according to the team (Twitter link). The deal is worth $28MM, per the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Michael Gelhken, and will keep Dunlap from hitting the free agent market March 10.
Dunlap, 30, spent the first four seasons of his NFL career with the Eagles before signing with the Chargers in 2013. He has appeared in and started 27 regular-season games for the Bolts, emerging as their most dependable offensive lineman. Dunlap’s teammates named him San Diego’s Lineman of the Year in 2014 and Pro Football Focus (subscription required) rated him the 23rd-best tackle in the league out of 84 qualifiers. That followed an even more impressive sixth overall ranking in 2013.
With Dunlap staying in San Diego, a shallow class of upcoming free agent left tackles becomes that much weaker. The only established unsigned starter at the position is Tennessee’s Michael Roos. However, according to Joe Fann of the Titans’ official website, Roos was contemplating retirement as recently as December.
Combining the lack of suitable veteran replacements for Dunlap with his strong play, the fact that he chose to re-sign in San Diego is clearly a boon to the organization and Philip Rivers. The quarterback heaped praise on Dunlap last season, in fact. “He’s been awesome,” Rivers said, according to the Union-Tribune’s Mark Inabinett. “A guy like that, left tackles aren’t just walking around a dime a dozen.”
The return of Dunlap will also benefit his fellow O-linemen, of course, especially in the wake of offseason retirements by Charger mainstays Nick Hardwick and Jeromey Clary. Those two joined the Bolts in 2006 and combined to make 229 starts during their nine-year careers. With them out of the picture, Dunlap becomes the elder statesman of a line that Pro Football Focus ranked fourth worst in the league last season.
Even after signing Dunlap, the Chargers have a fair amount of cap room to address other areas of concern. The website OverTheCap.com listed San Diego’s space upward of $27MM prior to its move to re-up Dunlap. The Chargers have decisions to make on some of their other key free agents – namely cornerback Brandon Flowers, wide receiver Eddie Royal and running back Ryan Mathews – as well as upgrades to make elsewhere.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.