When we think about the NFL incentivizing the heck out of getting the COVID-19 vaccine, our minds often drift to active players, coaches, and staffers on rosters and throughout organizations/throughout the league. But we shouldn’t overlook the perks for vaccinated free agents, who don’t have the tedious waiting period unvaccinated players must deal with.
With that in mind, I found this tweet (and its framing) by NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport to be interesting:
Free agent guard Forrest Lamp, who started all 16 games for the #Chargers last season, has made a (smart) decision and is now fully vaccinated, source said. After a minor calf strain in camp, he is now healthy and ready to contribute for OL-needy teams.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 28, 2021
This tweet has layers, so follow me for a moment. Because, to me, it reads as if offensive lineman Forrest Lamp’s camp shared with Rapoport that their client, an unemployed free agent, has a clean bill of health on multiple fronts. And that because Lamp has medical clearance after (1) dealing with a calf injury during training camp and (2) is fully vaccinated and doesn’t have to deal with the additional loopholes to gain employment, is ready for lineman-needy teams to come check in on him. And for what it’s worth, it has certainly piqued my interest.
Lamp, 27, was a Chargers second-round draft pick in 2017. Not only that, he was a one of the most highly touted offensive line prospects in his class.
Pro Football Focus and ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. had Lamp as the top-ranked guard. Mike Mayock, who was with NFL Network before joining the Raiders, saw Lamp as the class’ top interior offensive line prospect. And there was a general belief that a player such as Lamp head the potential for a lengthy NFL career because of his versatility to play left tackle in college and project as a right tackle or guard in the pros. But it hasn’t played out in that way, with Lamp starting just 18 games in three seasons. Then again, Lamp started all 16 games for the Chargers last season. So recent history is on his side.
Considering the Bears’ depth issues, Lamp’s prospect pedigree, and his updated health status, this is the type of player the team should kick the tires on. There is no such thing as having too much offensive line help. And that Lamp is a guard by trade (at least when it comes to the pro level) is irrelevant. Having able-bodied healthy linemen, no matter the position, is better than the alternative. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, and never assume your favorite team couldn’t use offensive line help.
Chicago’s football team should be well-versed in what Lamp brings to the table. The Bears front office had an extended eyes-on look at Lamp during the 2017 Senior Bowl, in which Chicago’s coaches had hands-on experience with Lamp and other top senior prospects of that class. Again, when considering the circumstances, the least the Bears could do is look at their notes from that week. No stone should be left un-turned after watching that line give up 9 sacks and allowing Justin Fields to get hit 15 times.