Scott Mruczkowski’s new three-year deal all but assures he will retain his job as the top backup guard next season. The 6-foot-5, 321-pound lineman has started only one game in his three-year career but played in 15 contests last season, performing well in spot duty.
Mruczkowski only inked his new deal after hearing from the coaching staff that increased playing time is in his near future. That should come after the 2008 season, when Mike Goff, 32, is expected to leave as an unrestricted free agent.
The Chargers are in the process of hammering out several mega-deals—Igor Olshansky, Philip Rivers, Shawne Merriman, Marcus McNeill—and there is not enough money left over to make Goff a legitimate offer.
That means Mruczkowski can finally land the starting job he has been angling for since he broke into the NFL.
“After being around guys like Nick Hardwick, Mike Goff, Kris Dielman, Marcus McNeill and the rest of my teammates, I didn’t want to go anywhere else to play,” Mruczkowski said. “We’ve got a great group of guys here and a great team. For me, it didn’t make any sense to go somewhere else.”
Mruczkowski’s contract gums up the works for Shane Olivea, whose future with the team is inside at guard. With the top three guards from last season all back in the fold, Olivea will likely be relegated to backup tackle duty next season as he waits for Goff’s contract to run its course.
The Chargers will listen to offers for Olivea but are not expecting to move him via trade. The contract extension he signed last season was very cap friendly, with remaining base salaries of $2 million (2008), $2.5 million (2009), $2.65 million (2010) and $3.075 million (2011).
It is all part of A.J. Smith’s plan to compile enviable depth, and inking a new deal with “Mooch” was a big step in that direction.
“Scott is a young player who we’ve seen improve during his three seasons in our program,” Smith said. “We think he’s got a bright future and we wanted to keep him in the fold. His work ethic is outstanding and he takes the game very seriously. He wants to get better and we’re glad that he wants to continue his development with us.”
Looking for the real scoop on Scott Mruczkowski?
--Click here for an interview with Gregg Brandon, who was Mruczkowski's coach at Bowling Green.
--Click here for an exclusive interview with Mruczkowski from his rookie season.
--Click here for an exclusive audio interview with Mruczkowki after he made his only career start in a 2006 game against the Oakland Raiders.
Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the Scout.com network. He has followed the Chargers for more than 14 years and covered the team since 2003.