St. Louis Rams: Free Agent RT Joe Barksdale Signs with San Diego Chargers


As first reported by Twitter NFL Insider Rand Getlin, free agent offensive tackle Joe Barksdale has agreed on a deal with the San Diego Chargers:

The 26-year-old Barksdale, a third-round pick of the Oakland Raiders in 2011, came to St. Louis on a waiver claim early in the 2012 season after a coaching change and a switch to a zone blocking scheme made him expendable in Oakland. He was quickly pressed into duty as a Ram, starting two games at left tackle and doing a very good job of shutting down Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews in one of them.

Barksdale became the Rams’ starting right tackle in 2013 after Rodger Saffold went down with an injury, and he was so good that after Saffold returned, he forced a rotation between the two and then an eventual position switch to guard for Saffold. His most impressive performance came against the Houston Texans that season, when he caused Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt to have one of only three games without a tackle that he’s had in 68 NFL games since 2011.

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After entering the 2014 season as the starter at right tackle, Barksdale got off to an absolutely fantastic start, ranking as the best tackle in the league according to Pro Football Focus for the first several weeks before leveling off a bit as the season went on. He had a rough time against Chiefs pass rusher Justin Houston, who recorded three sacks on Barksdale’s watch. Still, though, he was arguably the best-performing member of an underachieving Rams offensive line in 2014.

His strategy going into free agency may not have been the best; Barksdale spent the opening days of the free agent period planning for and then having his wedding, and he reportedly did not have contact with teams on his honeymoon, either. By the time Barksdale got actively involved in free agent talks, many teams’ holes had already been filled, and according to reports Barksdale also overpriced himself during the free agent process.

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The Rams maintained through the entire process that they had maintained contact with Barksdale, though coach Jeff Fisher did remark at one point that he believed Barksdale had overvalued himself as a free agent. The Rams made their strongest statement in regards to their possible retention of Barksdale when they elected to draft Wisconsin right tackle Rob Havenstein, seen as a candidate to start immediately, in the second round of this year’s draft, then provided him with a backup in Round 4 by selecting Iowa right tackle Andrew Donnal.

Barksdale will likely slide into the Chargers’ right tackle spot, with incumbent D.J. Fluker moving inside to right guard. That will give the Chargers four de facto offensive tackles on their offensive line, as former Denver Broncos right tackle Orlando Franklin signed with them this offseason to play left guard.

Next: The 10 Greatest Undrafted Free Agents in Rams History