We shared a report about the Chargers’ contract talks with impending free agent tackle Jared Gaither on Monday, but that’s not the only offensive lineman they’re trying to retain before the start of free agency on March 13th.
The team is also talking to center Nick Hardwick about re-signing with the team before he hits the open market. Hardwick has started every game in each of the last two seasons and 103 games overall since joining the team in 2003. Keeping Hardwick and Gaither would allow the Chargers to maintain some stability on the offensive line even with the retirement of Kris Dielman and the expected departure of Marcus McNeill.
Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the team would like to square away their offensive line before the start of free agency. Doing so would allow them to have a clear idea of what money they have to spend on help from outside or to use on bringing back wide receiver Vincent Jackson.
If they do choose to go outside, Mario Williams could be a consideration. Acee reports that the Chargers have an assigned, if unknown, price that they would be willing to pay to sign Williams as a free agent. Given A.J. Smith’s history, it seems unlikely that said price would go up if they are able to sign Gaither and Hardwick, but keeping them in the fold would at least allow the team to make some pursuit of Williams and the help he would bring their pass rush.