Panthers-Chargers trade grade: Trai Turner’s age, Pro Bowl resume make Los Angeles clear winners

The new league year does not begin until March 18, but yet another trade has reportedly been agreed to. CBS Sports NFL insider Jason La Canfora confirmed on Wednesday night that the Carolina Panthers are sending offensive guard Trai Turner to the Los Angeles Chargers in exchange for offensive tackle Russell Okung. According to CBS Sports NFL insider Jonathan Jones, there are no picks involved in the trade.

In the deal, the Panthers absorb $13 million in base salary for Okung and $9.6 million in dead money, per Over The Cap, while the Chargers take on the two remaining years of Turner’s contract — with $8.5 million and $11 million in base salary, respectively. 

Reports earlier this week indicated that the Panthers were shopping Turner, but did they get enough in return? What are their plans with Okung moving forward? Let’s take a swing at grading this trade.

Chargers: A-

Turner, a former third-round pick out of LSU, turns 27 this offseason and has made five straight Pro Bowls. He has missed three games in each of the last three seasons due to injury, but he is one of the better interior linemen in the NFL. The Chargers got younger along the offensive line and Turner sure seems fine with the move out west.

Okung turns 32 in October and hasn’t played a full 16-game season since signing a four-year, $53 million deal with the Chargers ahead of the 2017 season. Early last June, Okung suffered a pulmonary embolism after experiencing chest pains at practice, and later said that getting treated likely saved his life. Last month, the two-time Pro Bowler expressed “uncertainty” not only about “the direction of the organization,” but about his future with the team. Turns out he was right. 

Panthers: D

I’m not going to give Carolina an outright fail on this trade because we do not know what is going to happen with Okung moving forward. Will the Panthers restructure his contract? Are they going to turn around and trade him again? There’s no doubt that aspects of this trade are puzzling. The Panthers gave away a young offensive guard who has made five straight Pro Bowls for a 31-year-old offensive tackle who missed 10 games last year due to a groin injury and blood clots in his lungs. It was known that the Panthers were shopping Turner, but it’s within reason to expect a draft pick in return along with Okung for Turner.

Current Panthers offensive line coach Pat Meyer worked for the Chargers for three seasons, and had been pushing for Carolina to trade for his former left tackle, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. That may help explain the trade a little more, but it doesn’t explain what the Panthers got in return.

Okung spent one season with the Denver Broncos in 2016 following a six-year run with the Seattle Seahawks, who selected him sixth overall in the 2010 NFL Draft. He has started every game he’s ever played in and won Super Bowl XLVIII with Seattle. Okung is a veteran who could help Greg Little develop into an elite NFL tackle down the road, but it appears the Chargers won this trade. 

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