6:01pm: Turner wants a new contract, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter. It remains to be seen whether the Chargers would be willing to give him a deal that reflects the current guard market.
4:44pm: The Chargers and Panthers have reached tentative agreement on a trade that would send tackle Russell Okung to Carolina and guard Trai Turner to L.A., according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). It’s a swap of two big-time and big-bodied offensive lineman that addresses areas of need for both teams.
The deal is not yet official, but it sounds like the core pieces are in place. Once the new league year begins on March 18, the deal can be finalized.
The Panthers started shopping Turner earlier this month and it didn’t take long for a deal to come together. He’s got two years to go on his four-year, $45MM pact, but the Chargers are happy to pick up what’s left of the tab. The contract is not cheap by any stretch, but the guard market has rapidly advanced to the point where interior enforcers are getting ~$15MM year.
Turner, who has made the Pro Bowl for the last five years, has 84 career games and 80 NFL starts to his credit. Last year, he graded out as the No. 31 ranked guard in the league, according to the advanced metrics at Pro Football Focus. In 2015 – his coming-out party – he positioned as one of the game’s very best.
Okung was skeptical of his future with the Chargers and vocal about his complaints against the team. His L.A. tenure has been a bit of a mixed bag. In Year One, Okung earned Pro Bowl honors. Unfortunately, he lost much of last season due to blood clots in his lungs and a painful groin injury. All in all, he appeared in just six games for the Chargers.
No one expected Okung to fetch a ton on the trade block – he has one year left on his four-year, $53MM deal and the Bolts seemed likely to cut ties. His contract calls for a sizable $16.7MM cap hit; the Chargers had an escape hatch, however, that would have left them with just $3.5MM on the books.
The Chargers already have more than $50MM in available cap room and shedding Okung’s deal would push them into $60MM+ territory. They can direct those funds towards finding Philip Rivers‘ replacement or stick with Tyrod Taylor as their starter and spread the funds all around.
Okung, who is also looking to lead the NFLPA’s charge in CBA discussions, would probably be happy to rejoin offensive line coach Pat Meyer.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.