- Bill Williamson, ESPN Staff Writer
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Should the San Diego Chargers take action?
Teams can pursue franchised players such as Clady -- the left tackle franchise price tag is more than $9.8 million -- by giving them a contract offer more than the player’s existing team can match. If the team fails to match the offer, the new team must surrender its first-round pick in the next two drafts.
It is extremely rare for teams to even consider making a run at franchised players because of the price and restrictions. But would it be worth the Chargers’ while to consider taking a run at Clady.
Left tackle is the Chargers’ greatest need. Clady is a 26-year-old premier player. He would instantly make the Chargers better and he’d make Philip Rivers better. A Rivers-Clady pairing would be just the elixir Rivers’ career needs. New San Diego coach Mike McCoy was Denver’s offensive coordinator. He has a history with Clady and knows how important he is to offensive success.
In addition to the great fit, the Chargers would badly damage the best team in the AFC West by plucking Clady. Denver would have to seriously change its plans if it lost Clady. It would have to find a suitable replacement because Peyton Manning is way too valuable to have an inadequate blind-side protector.
Even if Denver would match an offer San Diego made, it could be worth it to the Chargers because they could dictate the terms and that could disrupt Denver’s offseason plans because it is currently not counting on giving Clady a long-term deal at this moment.
There would be some things for the Chargers to consider before making a run at Clady. While the need for a left tackle is great, it is not the team’s only need. The Chargers are more than one player away from contending, no matter how nicely Clady would fit there.
Signing Clady would take a huge chunk of San Diego’s salary-cap spending this offseason and losing two top draft picks is never ideal, especially when a rival gets the picks.
Again, such moves are rare and I‘d be surprised if San Diego were to make such a move. But it could be worth, at least, exploring. Great players such as Clady don’t often come available and the opportunity to weaken a rival is also a rare opportunity.