Report: Kris Dielman expected to retire

It appears the San Diego Chargers will have another high-priority need this offseason.

UT San Diego is reporting standout guard Kris Dielman is expected to announce his retirement soon. The news is a bit surprising because there have been reports that Dielman was prepared to play in 2012 and he was leaning toward playing. Last Thursday, San Diego general manager A.J. Smith said he hoped Dielman would be back.

According to Monday’s report, Dielman has been advised by a physician to retire for his long-term health. His 2011 season was cut short by a concussion.

If Dielman does retire, it will put a strain on the Chargers, although the team will save $5.5 million that it can spend elsewhere. The Chargers have potential holes at center and at left tackle as well as big needs on defense. They wanted Dielman back.

If Dielman does not come back, I think the Chargers could be in the mix for Stanford guard David DeCastro. ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay thinks DeCastro is a special talent. He could be on the board when the Chargers pick at No. 18. If not, they could trade down to get another guard, find one in free agency or they could insert a veteran backup such as Tyronne Green at the spot.

Center Nick Hardwick is a free agent. Hardwick wants to return and the Chargers want him back. The team wants to re-sign left tackle Jared Gaither. He excelled after replacing the injured Marcus McNeill. He is expected to be cut in the next week.