The new league year and free agent singing period began on Thursday with a multitude of players changing teams. Included among those initial signings were the Los Angeles Chargers and new left tackle Russell Okung.
After spending last season with divisional rival Denver, Okung was released after starting all 16 games for the Broncos. Electing to serve as his own representative, without an agent, Okung fulfilled one year of his original contract for a lot less money than he had hoped.
Representing himself again on the open market, Okung now lands with the Chargers in a much improved contract from last season. According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk Okung, “receives a $10 million signing bonus, a $3 million fully guaranteed base salary in 2017 and a $12 million fully guaranteed base salary in 2018. That’s a true and complete guarantee at signing of $25 million.”
By comparison, last season Okung had no money guaranteed at the time of signing in an incredibly team-friendly deal.
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Replacing tackle King Dunlap for the Chargers, when healthy, Okung should serve as an upgrade. However, last season was the first time in his seven-year career that Okung played in all 16 games. Despite playing in every game, Okung’s health issues will remain a red flag for a team that battled a multitude of injuries last year.
Dunlap was released after battling injuries himself during his career. The now former left tackle had also been recently arrested in Nashville, Tennessee for suspicion of violating a protective order.
Entering the 2017 season, Okung will now protect quarterback Philip Rivers’ blindside while helping pave the way on the ground for running back Melvin Gordon.