The Chargers knew they needed offensive line help. That is why as soon as the tampering window opened, they signed Green Bay center Corey Linsley and Pittsburgh left guard Matt Feiler.
Linsley is now the highest-paid center in the NFL and was named an All-Pro in 2020, but to him, that was last year.
"It feels good, but it really doesn't mean anything unless I perform to that level," said Linsley. "I'm thankful that the Chargers thought enough of me to offer me that contract. I'm thankful for that, but I owe them. I'm excited to get to work."
Feiler for the past few seasons has been a versatile player for the Steelers. He started off playing right tackle, then was moved to left guard this last season.
"It was a little choppy at first," admitted Feiler. "Switching your stance up to the other side, it's a little bit different. I've played left guard before, so it was kind of like riding a bike. Just had to shake the rust off and get back into it."
Both players had different paths to land with the Chargers ultimately. Linsley, for example, came because of the recommendation of right tackle Bryan Bulaga.
Linsley was Bulaga's teammate for years in Green Bay. He picked up the phone and sold his former teammate on the Chargers.
"He was very complimentary about everything out here," Linsley said. "Obviously, the place kind of sells itself, but for the organization, he had spoken with the coaches beforehand, and there were only positive things. He loved the first impression that he got from everybody, so that meant a lot to me."
On the other hand, the former Steeler knew Bolts assistant offensive line coach Shaun Sarrett, who was Feiler's offensive line coach for two seasons.
"It was good," said Feiler about having a familiar face in the coaching staff. "He came from coaching with [former Steelers offensive line coach] Mike Munchak in the Steelers organization. He carried a lot over from learning from Munchak. Having the familiar face here in L.A. will help my transition run a little smoother. Just having someone to talk to and lean on with any questions that I might have."
The Chargers want to make this a smooth transition for both players. The connections are what brought them to their new team. Bulaga explained to Linsley how similar the offensive line scheme is and Feiler having his former offensive line coach makes everything smoother for them.
The interesting question is, which guard position will Feiler be playing?
"They told me guard," said Feiler. "They didn't really specify which side. I've played both in the past, and I'm open to either one."
Linsley being an All-Pro wasn't an accident. He stepped his game and was able to take the next step. The Bolts are hoping he brings that same play to their offensive line in 2021. Last season, there was just bad play and a lot of injuries that hampered the offensive line play.
He is coming in to be the quarterback of the offensive line. He will communicate what he sees from the defense with quarterback Justin Herbert. Communication is vital at the center position.
"I try to communicate as quickly as I can," explained Linsley. "I feel like that's the most important thing for a center, to be able to identify the front and get everybody on the same page as quickly as you possibly can. That's something that I've taken pride in. I felt like we had a really good thing going in Green Bay that we all built. It takes everybody, but when we get up to the line of scrimmage, my most important job is to get everybody on the same page."
Regardless of which guard spot Feiler plays, he knows first-hand how valuable it is to an offensive line when they have an All-Pro at center. He played with Maurkice Pouncey for numerous seasons but lined up next to him last year.
"You always want to have an experienced center, one that can lead by example and set that example on and off of the field," explained Feiler. "I believe that's how Corey is. It's important to have that because that's who the guys on the line look to for leadership. I think starting there was a good call."
It was evident how much help the Chargers need on the offensive line. They have a rookie quarterback who is looking to improve his game going into his sophomore season. Feiler has yet to meet his new quarterback, but he knows about him.
"I haven't had the chance to meet him yet, but I know that he's a young quarterback with a big arm," said Feiler. "Just seeing some of the highlights from last year, he has made some exciting players, some highlight-reel plays. I'm just excited to get the chance to work with him."
Herbert is coming off a 36-touchdown rookie season, which turned some heads.
"Yeah, I think everyone has seen the highlights, for sure," said Linsley with a smile, "It was impressive."
The Chargers have only begun to sign free agents and even have the draft to look forward to, but these two additions are crucial to improving the offensive line. It is clear that players within the building and new ones coming in believe in head coach Brandon Staley's message.
"The new coaching staff," said Feiler about what attracted him to the Chargers. "It's going to be a younger coaching staff, so they can relate to us more."