Russell Okung

Russell Okung To Return To Practice

A Chargers team again ransacked by injuries received a boost Thursday. After missing the first six games of the season due to a blood clot issue, Russell Okung returned to practice. The veteran left tackle also agreed to an adjusted contract, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter).

The revised deal will allow the 10th-year blocker to earn all of his $13MM salary this season. His salary would have been reduced otherwise, due to his stay on the Bolts’ NFI list. The Chargers have 21 days to determine if Okung will return to game action this season. If Okung remains on Los Angeles’ NFI list by that point, he will revert to season-ending IR.

Okung, who has hired agent J.I. Hatsell after years of going without representation, reached an agreement with the Chargers to see all of his $13MM (per Rapoport, on Twitter). A portion of Okung’s 2019 salary would not previously have been available under the previous circumstances.

This will provide a boost for the Chargers, who have endured frequent trouble up front this season. Mike Pouncey is now out for the year, joining many key unavailable Bolts.

Los Angeles had been using UDFA Trent Scott at left tackle. Scott suffered an injury as well. While it’s not certain Okung will be back in uniform Sunday, Thursday’s development is obviously good news for the 2-4 Bolts.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC West Notes: Chargers, Broncos, Chiefs

Now that he’s back with the Chargers, running back Melvin Gordon will instantly vault to the top of the club’s depth chart. “He’s our starter. No doubt,” said head coach Anthony Lynn, tweets Field Yates of ESPN.com. “He was our starter for a reason… as soon as Melvin’s ready, he’ll go back. He’ll go back to number one.” Lynn also said backups Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson will continue to get work, but Gordon will become the No. 1 back. Meanwhile, Los Angeles received a roster exemption for Gordon, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). Gordon’s exemption ends on October 7, so the Chargers don’t technically have to activate him for either Week 4 or 5.

Here’s more from the AFC West:

  • The Chargers placed left tackle Russell Okung on the non-football injury list prior to the beginning of the regular season, meaning he has to miss at least the first six weeks of the campaign. Lynn says Okung, who is dealing with a pulmonary embolism, could potentially return by Week 7 or 8, but that timeline is unclear, as Albert Breer of The MMQB.com writes. Amid the uncertainty, Trent Scott has taken over as LA’s starter on Philip Rivers‘ blindside, but he’s graded out as a bottom-10 tackle league-wide, per Pro Football Focus.
  • Broncos right tackle Ja’Wuan James is expected to miss two-to-four more weeks while dealing with a knee injury, while cornerback Bryce Callahan is out four-to-six more weeks after undergoing a procedure on his foot, according to Kyle Fredrickson of the Denver Post (Twitter link). Meanwhile, defensive back Kareem Jackson is questionable for Sunday’s game against the Jaguars because of a foot issue, tweets Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic. As a result, Denver could potentially be without its top three free agent signings for its Week 4 contest.
  • Star quarterback Patrick Mahomes is eligible for an extension at season’s end, and Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reported earlier this year that the Chiefs signal-caller is likely to land a deal worth more than $200MM. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk examines what’s changed in the months since while looking at just how soon Kansas City could give Mahomes a fresh pact.

Chargers Slash Roster To 53

In addition to the Chargers’ Russell Okung announcement, they finalized their 53-man roster.

Cardale Jones did not make the team, with Los Angeles going with Tyrod Taylor and rookie Easton Stick behind Philip Rivers. The XFL has openly mentioned Jones on multiple occasions, so the former Bills and Ohio State passer could be a high-profile candidate for the upstart league.

Here are the Bolts’ Saturday cuts:

Chargers Place Russell Okung On Reserve/NFI List

Russell Okung‘s Chargers season cannot begin until at least Week 7. The Bolts placed their starting left tackle on the reserve/NFI list, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

Okung has been dealing with blood clots. A Chargers line that struggled down the stretch last season will now not have one of its anchors. This has obviously become a rather serious situation for Okung, a 2010 first-round pick, and it’s now conceivable he will not play this season.

Los Angeles has third-round rookie Trey Pipkins and second-year UDFA Trent Scott as backup options and could look to waivers for additional help.

The soon-to-be 32-year-old edge blocker made the 2017 Pro Bowl and has started 31 games with the Bolts since signing a lucrative contract in 2017. Okung’s four-year, $53MM deal has two years remaining. He is on the Los Angeles cap sheet at $15.9MM in 2019.

Russell Okung Will Miss At Least Week 1

Updates have been hard to come by on Chargers left tackle Russell Okung. Okung has been sidelined all offseason, and it’s never been clear exactly what is wrong.

Okung was placed on the NFI list last month with an undisclosed illness, and Chargers GM Tom Telesco said he had been dealing with a “pretty serious medical issue” since June. At the time it was reported that he could miss all of training camp, and that’s exactly what happened. Now we have confirmation that he’ll miss regular season time, as Telesco said recently that Okung will not be ready for Week 1, via Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

Further, Telesco said that he’d have “a better update on Okung’s health status in a couple weeks.” It sounds like there’s a good chance Okung isn’t back anytime soon. Obviously this isn’t good news for the Chargers, as they’re looking to follow-up on last year’s strong 12-4 campaign. Los Angeles has already dealt with some tough injury luck, as star safety Derwin James will be sidelined for a few months with a foot issue.

Okung signed a four-year, $53MM deal with the Chargers in 2017, and he made the Pro Bowl that year. He’s started 30 games for them the past couple of years, and his absence will be a huge downgrade to Philip Rivers‘ offensive line. The Chargers will now move forward with Sam Tevi, Trenton Scott, and Trey Pipkins as their top three tackles. None of them are particularly inspiring options.

Russell Okung Could Miss All Of Training Camp

Reports last month indicated that Chargers left tackle Russell Okung was dealing with an undisclosed injury, but that may not be quite accurate. As Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com tweets, the team placed Okung on the NFI listed with an undisclosed illness, and GM Tom Telesco said that Okung started dealing with a “pretty serious medical issue” in early June (via Daniel Popper of The Athletic on Twitter).

Popper adds that Okung could miss all of training camp, though there is no word yet on whether his regular season (or his career) are in jeopardy at this point. Telesco said that the 31-year-old is doing better and getting great care, and Okung plans to provide additional details when training camp opens tomorrow.

If Okung is forced to miss time, it would be a huge blow to the Bolts, who are widely considered to be a legitimate championship contender. Okung earned a Pro Bowl nod during his first year with the Chargers in 2017, and Pro Football Focus graded him as the 11th-best tackle in the league in 2018.

The No. 6 overall pick in the 2010 draft has missed just one regular season game in each of the past two seasons, and he suited up for both of Los Angeles’ playoff contests last year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Russell Okung Uncertain For Training Camp

Whatever Russell Okung is dealing with, it’s fair to say that it’s not too minor. Word surfaced earlier this week that the Chargers left tackle is dealing with a mysterious injury, and we still don’t know what it is yet.

That being said it’s safe to assume it’s something significant, as Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com reports the Chargers don’t know if he’ll be ready for training camp next month (Twitter link). The Chargers have had some tough injury luck in recent years, so hopefully Okung doesn’t have to miss any regular season action.

Ever since signing a four-year, $53MM deal with the Chargers in March of 2017, Okung has been one of the offensive line’s few consistent pieces. He’s started 15 games each of the past two seasons, and it would be a massive blow if Los Angeles had to go any time without him. As of right now right tackle Sam Tevi is filling in for him in practice, while Trenton Scott has been playing right tackle.

Scott is a second-year UDFA who played sparingly as a rookie, so ideally the Chargers won’t have to count on him in 2019. It’s rare for a player to be able to keep an injury under wraps this long without word leaking out, and we should know a lot more soon. The folks over at Pro Football Focus gave Okung a 78.4 grade last year, ranking him as the 11th-best tackle in the league.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Russell Okung Injury Severity Not Yet Known

Chargers left tackle Russell Okung did not practice Tuesday due to an undisclosed injury, head coach Anthony Lynn said (Tweet via ESPN’s Eric Williams). When asked if the injury could potentially be longterm, Lynn responded with an ominous, “We don’t know yet.” 

That type of response will not help Chargers fans rest easy. A two-time Pro Bowl left tackle, Okung, 31, is entering his third season with a Chargers team that many expect to contend with the Chiefs for the AFC West crown in 2019.

With Okung out of practice, the Chargers shifted Sam Tevi to left tackle and Trent Scott played right tackle. The team did spend a third-round pick in April’s draft on Trey Pipkens, a 6-foot-6 tackle from little-known Sioux Falls.

Okung posted a grade of 78.4 on Pro Football Focus, making him the No. 11-ranked tackle in the NFL. In his time with the Chargers, Okung has missed just two games, one of which came due to a groin injury in 2018. In his first season with the Chargers, the team allowed the fewest sacks in the league (18) and ranked just outside the top 10 in sacks allowed the following season.

Okung is entering the third year of a four-year deal that will pay him $13MM in each of the next two seasons.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Contract Details: Okung, Glennon, Simon

Updates on several contracts signed this week…

  • There are “no tricks” in Russell Okung‘s new four-year, $53MM deal with the Chargers, tweets Tom Pelissero of USA Today (via Twitter). The offensive lineman received a $10MM signing bonus, and his guaranteed money will come via his 2017 $3MM base salary and 2018 $12MM base salary.
  • Mike Glennon‘s 2017 $8MM base salary with the Bears is fully guaranteed, tweets Adam Jahns of the Sun Times. Meanwhile, the quarterback’s $5MM roster bonus will kick in on the fifth day of the 2018 league year. Jahns adds that Glennon can earn an additional $2.5MM in bonuses based on playing time, wins, and individual performance. If he hits on these NLTBE incentives, his 2018 roster bonus will be voided.
  • Linebacker John Simon‘s new deal with the Colts is actually worth $14MM over three years, clarifies NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo (via Twitter). Simon will earn $6MM in guaranteed money, which will seemingly come via his 2017 salary.
  • Safety Jonathan Cyprien‘s deal with the Titans includes a $3MM signing bonus, reports ESPN.com’s Paul Kuharsky. The veteran will earn a $2MM base salary and $1MM roster bonus in 2017. He’ll be paid $4.5MM in 2018 and $5.5MM in 2019 and 2020.

Chargers To Sign Russell Okung

The Chargers will sign offensive tackle Russell Okung to four-year, $53MM deal, per Ian Rapoport (Twitter link). The pact contains $25MM guaranteed, tweets Josina Anderson of ESPN.com.

Russell Okung (Vertical)

Los Angeles is stealing away a division rival’s left tackle in Okung, who previously negotiated his own contract last offseason when he left Seattle for Denver. His four-year, $48MM deal with the Broncos came with an escape clause for the team after 2016 that Denver took advantage of. Okung, to his credit, posted the first 16-start season of his seven-year career with the Broncos. The 29-year-old didn’t play at an especially high level, though, as Pro Football Focus ranked his performance a middling 38th among 78 qualified tackles.

In addition to the Chargers and Broncos, Okung had also been linked to the Vikings, Jets, Giants, Rams, and Seahawks. As such, Okung was able to parlay that level of interest into a deal that appears to be larger than his option would have provided. The total value is $5MM greater, and while we’ll have to wait for exact fully guaranteed figures, Okung was only set to earn $20.5MM guaranteed in his remaining Denver years.

The addition of Okung will likely lead to the release of incumbent Chargers left tackle King Dunlap. The 31-year-old is coming off his second straight injury-shortened campaign, having combined for 19 appearances (12 last season) since 2015. A four-year Charger, Dunlap has started in all 46 of his appearances with the club. If done as as a pre-June 1 designation, cutting Dunlap would save the Bolts $4.875MM and leave with $3.25MM in dead money.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.