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Chargers LT Russell Okung 'Skeptical of the Team's Direction and Future with the Team'

Starting left tackle Russell Okung has concerns about the Chargers' direction as well as his future in Los Angeles.

While the Los Angeles Chargers find someone to will fill Philip Rivers' shoes as the starting quarterback, they might also face concerns along the offensive line. According to ESPN's Josina Anderson, starting left tackle Russell Okung feels "skeptical of the team's direction and his future with the team."

Okung, who appeared in only six games last season due to a combination of health issues included a pulmonary embolism that almost cost him his life, has served as the Chargers' preferred starter at left tackle since signing in 2017. Okung played approximately 87% of the team's offensive snaps his first two years in Los Angeles and earned a trip to the Pro Bowl.

However, Okung's health woes, as well as those for other members of the Chargers' offensive line, contributed to the team's disappointing performance in 2019. Fellow Pro Bowl offensive lineman Mike Pouncey suffered a severe neck injury that ended his season after five games. Forrest Lamp, who entered the starting lineup upon Pouncey's departure, broke his ankle later that month and landed on injured reserve. And though Okung did return in late October, subsequent groin and knee issues forced him to miss time later in the year. At no point during the season did all five preferred starters suit up together.

Still, Okung remains the Chargers' most reliable and experienced offensive tackle. The offense -- which at various times relied on Trent Scott and Trey Pipkins at left tackle -- struggled with the 10-year veteran out of the lineup. That value could explain why, according to Anderson, Los Angeles has worked to assuage Okung's concerns about his future with the organization.

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At the same time, Okung will take up a considerable chunk of the Chargers' salary cap under his current deal. The contract keeps the veteran tackle in Los Angeles through the upcoming season and includes a cap hit of more than $16.7 million, the fourth highest figure for an offensive tackle in 2020. Though the team has more than $49 million in available cap space with which to operate this offseason, releasing or trading Okung would free up an additional $13,187,500 in funds. That money could come in handy should the Chargers make a serious run at a free-agent quarterback like Tom Brady.

But regardless of whom the Chargers start behind center, they need a quality offensive line. Moving on from Okung would create more issues, not fewer, in the team's quest to improve its pass protection.

-- Jason B. Hirschhorn is an award-winning sports journalist and Pro Football Writers of America member. Follow him on Twitter: @by_JBH