Orlando Franklin Badly Wanted to be a Bolt

General Manager Tom Telesco and Head Coach Mike McCoy prioritize players who love the game of football.

All it takes is one conversation with Orlando Franklin to see he’s someone that eats, sleeps and breathes the sport.   That’s why the Chargers pounced on the massive guard, agreeing to a five-year contract with the highly-coveted free agent on Tuesday. 

Not only was Franklin a priority for the Chargers, but the 27-year old badly wanted to be a Bolt as well, choosing San Diego over other teams that offered him more money.   One key reason is the presence of McCoy, who served as Franklin’s offensive coordinator his first two years in the league with the Denver Broncos.

“I’m excited to go to a team that I’m familiar as far as Mike McCoy and his scheme there,” he said.  “The Chargers have always had a great offense in place with a great quarterback and a good offensive line. I had an offer on the table from (another team) that was a little bit more than San Diego offered, but I ended up coming to San Diego because I felt more comfortable with the scheme and McCoy.  Obviously the line calls are going to change because it is a different offensive line coach, but at the same time, I am going to feel more comfortable because of McCoy, and I feel the Chargers run what I’ve done.”

Originally a second-round pick by the Broncos in 2011 (46th overall), Franklin started all 17 games at left guard in 2014, including the divisional playoff game. It was his first year at the position after starting 53 games at right tackle over his first three seasons.  While he brings versatility, he made it clear he’ll be suiting up in one spot for the Chargers.

“I’m coming in to play left guard,” he said matter-of-factly. “They told me they don’t want me to do anything more or less than what I did for Denver.  They like my style of play, and I’m going to come in and give it 110% every play that I’m out there.  I pride myself on getting down the field after the ball is thrown.  That is how I’ve played since high school.  I like to get downfield and celebrate.  Football is the ultimate sport, and it’s the only thing I know in this world basically where you can zone out for three hours and not be worried about anything else going on in the world.  So I’m definitely excited to be doing that the next five years for the Chargers.”

He’s also excited to protect Philip Rivers, enthusiastically praising the quarterback as another reason he chose San Diego.

“Philip is a guy who can manage the huddle.  He is very similar to Peyton (Manning) as far as he wants the attention of his guys and is a perfectionist.  He likes guys to be on point and take care of business.  So I’m excited to play with a guy like that, and he can sling that rock!  So I’m definitely excited that he’s going to throw that rock up and down the field.  I’m excited to protect for a guy like that, and I’m just excited about the whole organization and what you have to offer. The Chargers are a team definitely heading in the right direction.”

It’s impossible to miss the hulking Franklin, and the 6-7, 320-pounder will now form an imposing tandem on the left side of the line next to the 6-9, 330-pound King Dunlap.   The offensive line is a position group that thrives on chemistry, so it's good news for the Chargers that Franklin and Dunlap have known each other for years.

“I met King Dunlap when I was in college and he was playing for Philadelphia,” Franklin explained.  “One of my best friends was playing for the Eagles, and I would go up and visit him all the time and King was actually staying with him. So that is where I met King a few years ago, and it’s exciting to play with a guy I can actually hide behind! King is an absolutely huge human being.  He had an awesome year and I’m excited to play right beside him.”

Dunlap isn’t the only Chargers tackle Franklin praised, as he was equally effusive in his excitement to join D.J. Fluker. In fact, he believes every one of the linemen will raise his game.

“Fluker is just a dog when it comes to football!” he exclaimed.  “He’s a guy that will just go out there and get it done.  He’s a physical player, and by all means he will do whatever it takes to get his man on the ground.  I like to pride myself on being a physical player, too.  I’m just excited to be on a line with a guy like him. I’m a competitive player, so I’m going to go out and try to get more pancakes than all those guys.  But they get it done. So it’s going to be a tough task, but I look forward to taking advantage of it and taking a shot at it.”

Franklin arrives in San Diego with a strong support system already intact, and that includes recently re-signed cornerback Brandon Flowers.  The pair graduated from the same high school, and although they didn’t attend at the same time, they’ve grown close over the years.

“When I got to Del Ray, Brandon just finished,” Franklin said. “So he knew of me, and once I got to Miami we played Virginia Tech.  Then when I got to Denver he was already in Kansas City, but his whole family knew me because I went to school with his sister.  We always knew each other, so it’s always been good.  His mom and dad would be at the games after I played against him, and we’d all chop it up.”

Faced with a life-altering decision about which team to join, Franklin sought Flowers’ counsel.  The cornerback was a pending free agent himself, but he enthusiastically endorsed San Diego.  Now, both will unite to wear the lightning bolt.

“Brandon is a great guy and I actually called him to talk about the Chargers when I thought about coming here,” Franklin admitted. “I asked him point blank what it’s like, and he said, ‘Man, you come here and you are exactly what we need.  We need more dogs on that field.’ I was like, ‘Alright, I’m coming!’  So I’m happy to see us both are here as Chargers.”

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