Dec 16, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers tackle Max Starks (78) in action against Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware (94) at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Top left tackle free agents for Chargers

Jared Gaither’s career is all but over in San Diego, meaning that the Bolts will be shopping for a new left tackle this off-season. The draft will most likely be where San Diego picks up Philp Rivers new best friend or worst enemy, but if they should test the murky waters of free agency, here’s who they could pick up.

Sept 9, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Miami Dolphins tackle Jake Long (77) blocks Houston Texans outside linebacker Connor Barwin (98) during the second half at Reliant Stadium. The Texans won 30-10. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

Jake Long

The former number one overall pick will likely weigh his options in free agency. He didn’t have a great season last year, allowing 7.0 sacks and totaling 4 penalties in just 12 games. Still, Long is considered the best left tackle out there. However, it’s looking like he’ll re-sign with Miami.

Branden Albert 

With the trade for Alex Smith, Chiefs seem to be a lock to take Luke Joeckel first overall. That means Albert will either have to sign for less money, or move on. He could be a nice guy to come in and give the Chargers two solid seasons and mentor a young talent. He only allowed 1.0 sack last season through 13 games.

Sam Baker 

After an abysmal year in 2010, Baker’s sacks allowed numbers and penalties have decreased immensely. In 2012 he only allowed 3.5 sacks and wasn’t penalized once. Baker had surgery at the end of the season which means the former first round pick could be a little cheaper on the market full of tackles.

Max Starks 

This move seems the most viable to happen this off-season. Starks is already familiar with a Ken Wisenhunt style of offense from his time in Pittsburgh. Starks would be great for the power blocking scheme that the Chargers run. Starks tallied only 3.0 sacks allowed last season and only 3 penalties. He would be a perfect guy to let step in and fill the left tackle position while a young guy in the later rounds  learns the ropes.

Signing a guy in free agency would do more help than harm for the Chargers if the price is right. It would allow them to draft for another needs like guard or defensive back. The Chargers have also went on record by saying that this year’s draft strategy would change under the new regime. That will most likely mean that the drafting of “project players” will be less likely. That ultimately means that they’ll be looking for guys to make an immediate impact.

Free agency starts March 12th.

You can follow Matt on Twitter @Welch1048. 

Tags: Branden Albert Jake Long Max Starks Sam Baker San Diego Chargers

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