Chargers sign LT Jared Gaither to four-year deal

The Chargers were left with an awkward, gaping hole at left tackle when free agency began: Marcus McNeill was released and Jared Gaither was free to walk. But the Bolts were able to keep Gaither in the fold, signing him to a four-year contract on Wednesday.

Gaither, our 13th-ranked free agent, was a mid-season addition in 2011, after being released by both the Ravens and the Chiefs. With McNeill injured, he stepped up in a big way and nearly helped the Chargers make the playoffs with a late-season run.
"I was ecstatic. It's definitely been a blessed day. To get that out of the way allows me to focus on football," Gaither said. "It was a great fit. Obviously both of the parties felt that way."

Gaither, as one of my editors pointed out, wins the "How to Announce You've Signed a New Deal on Twitter" award for free agency thus far.
Though he might not phrase his excitement in precisely the same way, there's a good chance that Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is just as excited. The Chargers re-signed center Nick Hardwick as well, and now Rivers blindside should be substantially protected.

There's obviously some concern with Gaither, because of the whole "released by two teams before turning 26" thing. But he's got a ton of upside and if the Chargers structured this deal to incentivize him, it could end up paying off big-time.

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

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