On February 28th, the San Diego Chargers cut Shane Olivea. On November 29th Olivea lost the starting RT job to Jeromey Clarey. Both tackles are young and former late round picks, 7th and 6th respectively. Not too long back, Olivea was considered part of the Chargers’ young core, but amidst reports that he had badly regressed the past season and a half, Olivea fell from the organization’s and particularly Norv Turner’s good graces. I’m willing to bet against Turner when it comes to talent evaluation. What’s surprising, though, is that Olivea is still a free agent.
Whatever’s wrong with Olivea, it doesn’t show up in his pass blocking stats. In his first three seasons in the league, Olivea allowed 4.5, 5 and 5.75 sacks in 16, 15 and 16 games started. Pretty steady. In 2007, Olivea allowed 3 sacks in 10 games started. He didn’t record a single hold - charged with only 2 in his entire career - and was penalized for just 1 false start. Holmgren is known to stress penalty avoidance by his offensive line, and I must think that Olivea’s impressive discipline would be at home in Mike’s system.
His run blocking, is, eh, less impressive. In his first 3 seasons, the Chargers were consistently top 10 rushing around right tackle. In 2007, they were among the league’s worst, 29th.
I don’t have any video of Olivea handy, but gather from wending through various Chargers sites that fans felt he was doggin’ it. That’s a pretty common accusation when a player unexpectedly looks worse, and no one can provide a real explanation as to why. Olivea played with a bit of a gimpy back, and his right side mate, Mike Goff, could have taken that toboggan like decline ho-hum players often take in their early 30s. Also, lest my eyes deceive me, LaDainian Tomlinson is no longer the back he once was. Still, that Olivea is in the midst of a sudden, very early retirement is curious, minimum.
I won’t go as far as say I endorse Seattle signing Olivea. The front office certainly has a better feel for who the young man really is, and what he’ll do to get back in the game than I do. But, for a team tackle deficient, and again employing Porkchop Womack, it should be considered. The hope for Womack is that the new regime demands the forever talented and forever out of shape utility offensive lineman to do enough conditioning, lifting and prep to be a serviceable tackle. Maybe Olivea doesn’t give a damn. I’ve long held the belief that the supposed “contract push” is an entirely different beast in the NFL. Playing MLB or the NBA might be long and strenuous, provoking certain athletes to fight for that first big payday and then chill, but players in the NFL are quite literally sacrificing their bodies. Linemen, especially, are doing irreparable damage to their knees, likely their backs…and one couldn’t judge too harshly the frankly prudent decision one might make to fight for that first contract and then get out while you can walk. That’s why I love the One Percenters, the fringe, the Owen Schmitt’s, who love every brutal moment, body be damned. Maybe Olivea knows better.