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Chargers solidify left tackle spot
SAN DIEGO – The Chargers and left tackle Jared Gaither reached a four-year agreement Wednesday.
Gaither started the final five games last season in San Diego and helped solidify the offensive line during a 4-1 finish after the team claimed him off waivers.
“I was ecstatic,” Gaither said. "It’s definitely been a blessed day to be able to get that done and just get that out of the way. It allows me to focus on football strictly and solely and get the job done.
“It was a great fit and obviously both of the parties felt that way and we were able to get the contract out of the way and we just look forward to progressing and getting better.”
Gaither did not allow a sack during the last five games of the season as the Chargers made a late push. The offense averaged more than 31 points in those games, including a 38-14 win at Jacksonville in Gaither’s first game that ended a six-game losing streak and a 34-14 win over Gaither’s former team and AFC No. 2 seed Baltimore.
“I don’t know where we would’ve been if we had not been able to sign Jared Gaither,” Head Coach Norv Turner said after the season. “This has been his rebirth, a chance to show what he’s all about, and I think he’s answered a lot of questions for everybody. He’s a good football player.”
Gaither spoke highly of the Chargers after the season, knowing he was to become an unrestricted free agent. The 6-foot-9, 340-pound tackle said he appreciated the opportunity San Diego gave him after being released by Kansas City mid-season.
“The coaching staff, the players and the locker room played a big part on me wanting to come back,” Gaither said. “In particular the O-line and the camaraderie of the line. Me being able to click with those guys in a short time period is definitely special, so I look forward to doing great things with those guys.”
San Diego has addressed what the team viewed as its top priority of the offseason by retaining center Nick Hardwick on a three-year deal and re-signing Gaither. Now the Chargers have the same offensive line that finished the season with such strong performances: Gaither, Tyronne Green, Hardwick, Louis Vasquez and Jeromey Clary.
Both tackles and the center are signed through at least 2014.
Gaither, Hardwick and company did not allow Philip Rivers to get sacked in four of the final five games, a key stat to the team’s 4-1 finish.
“I think the sky’s the limit,” Gaither said of his possible contributions. “My dedication and hard work speaks for itself. I’m just staying working hard. Time will tell. When I get there with Coach Hal (Hunter) and we put together a great offseason game plan and get the ball rolling, I say the sky’s the limit.”