Chargers add experienced, veteran presence in OL Matt Slauson

SAN DIEGO -- First reported by ESPN NFL Insider Adam Caplan, the signing by the San Diego Chargers of interior offensive lineman Matt Slauson to a two-year deal likely serves as a stop-gap measure for the team.

Third-year pro Chris Watt is the projected starter at center as it stands now, but he missed 15 games the past two seasons due to injuries. Trevor Robinson started 13 games in 2015 but could be a better fit as a backup interior lineman on game days.

And the Chargers drafted USC product Max Tuerk in the third round of this year’s draft as the potential, long-term answer at center. However, Tuerk is just seven months removed from an ACL knee surgery that cut short his 2015 season for the Trojans and might not be fully healthy for training camp.

The Chargers now add Slauson to that group -- a player who started all 16 games for the Chicago Bears last season, including four at center.

The 30-year-old Slauson has been pretty durable. Slauson missed 11 games during the 2014 season due to a torn pectoral muscle, but he started in 85 of the 88 games he played with the New York Jets and Bears during his seven-year career, including 81 starts at left guard.

Slauson also played in a similar offensive system to the Chargers in a Chicago offense led by former Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase, now the head coach of the Miami Dolphins.

Gase served as wide receivers and quarterbacks coach for current San Diego Chargers head coach Mike McCoy when he served as offensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos from 2009 to 2012.

The Chargers used five different centers in 2014 and three different players there last season. San Diego has not had a starting center play a full, 16-game season since recently retired, longtime center Nick Hardwick manned the position in 2013.

At 6-foot-5 and 320 pounds, Slauson is a physical, big-bodied guy at the center position. He also offers versatility, starting 33 games at left guard the last three seasons for the Bears.

The Chargers played 24 different offensive line combinations last season, fourth-most in the NFL. So San Diego needs all of the talented, experienced offensive linemen they can add to the roster.

Bringing in someone like Slauson to help bridge the gap until players like Watt and Tuerk can prove that they can consistently man the center position certainly helps a San Diego squad that believes they can quickly turn things around after a disappointing, 4-12 campaign last season.