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Bolts' Mathews earnest but pragmatic

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, Jul 19, 2010.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006

    Monday, July 19, 2010

    Even on a lake in Minnesota with my Blackberry turned off, I heard the news that Ryan Mathews had said he wanted to be in camp on time.

    I've been waiting two weeks to say this: So?

    Pretty much every first-rounder since the dawn of the draft has stated the same intention when asked.

    Mathews laughed when I said that to him today.

    "Yeah," he acknowledged while chuckling. "... “What makes mine different, I think, is that I need to contribute this year. Being in camp on time will help me do that.”
    I've written before in this space examples of why it appears Mathews has his head on straight, and I have little doubt he will be in camp on time.

    That belief also has to do with the fact that the last Chargers first-rounder to not be on time was Shawne Merriman in 2005. (He practiced for the first time four days after that year's first full-squad workout.)
    Now, "on time" is a term that can be debated. If on time means when rookies report, then the chances are significantly less that Mathews will be at Chargers Park. Rookies report Sunday.

    On time, however, is generally understood to be before the first full-squad workout. Chargers veterans report July 29 and the first full-squad practice is the next morning.

    It is Mathews' intention to be a full-fledged Charger (and new millionaire) by then.

    "Any time in there would be fine," he said, citing the dates of July 25 and 30.

    However, while he previously stated he had talked to his agent about his desire to be punctual, Mathews sounded today as he had been told a few things too.

    "It's also a business," he said. "That's what I have to realize. ... I want to be on time. Hopefully that happens. If not, there's nothing I can do."
    More noteworthy than Mathews' proclamation he wants to be on time is the fact that on July 9, third-round draft pick Donald Butler and fifth-rounder Cam Thomas agreed to contracts, meaning that the Chargers had signed all their picks except Mathews.

    I am still researching the last time the Chargers had all their picks signed that early. But I know that in my six years covering them, this will be the first time I do not spend the weekend before rookies report trying to chase down multiple agents and/or players trying to find if they have signed.
  2. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006
    All signs indicate Bolts' Mathews will sign

    Chargers’ top pick itching to contribute

    Originally published July 19, 2010

    So Ryan Mathews, the Chargers’ first-round draft pick, said he wants to sign and be in training camp on time.

    While there are reasons to believe that could be achieved, including the fact his agent and Chargers General Manager A.J. Smith are cut from the same old-school cloth, there really is nothing unusual about Mathews’ stated intention.

    Mathews laughed Monday when it was pointed out to him that hardly any rookie ever indicated plans to be tardy in joining their new team.

    “What makes mine different, I think, is that I need to contribute this year,” Mathews said. “Being in camp on time will help me do that.”
    What is truly unusual is the fact that every one of the Chargers’ other five picks is signed — and has been for at least two weeks. Third-rounder Donald Butler and fifth-rounder Cam Thomas signed July 9.

    The Chargers are somewhat the beneficiaries of an apparent leaguewide trend to get lower-round picks signed, and they also happen not to have a second-round pick.

    Just one player selected in the first two rounds (Vladimir Ducasse, selected 61st overall by the New York Jets) has signed.

    Still, the Jets, Washington Redskins and Atlanta Falcons are the only other teams to have just one pick unsigned. Only the Chicago Bears, who did not select in the first or second round, have signed all their draft picks.

    “As far as the third round and (lower), I think the teams figure they will have enough of a challenge signing their first- and second-rounders … so they figure let’s get these other guys done and out of the way,” said Eugene Parker, who represents Butler and whose agency represents three first-round picks.

    Not since at least 1999 have the Chargers had every draft pick sign by the time rookies reported to training camp.

    Just four Chargers first-round picks since 1990 have signed before the reporting deadline for rookies. The last Chargers first-rounder to report officially late (after veterans begin practicing) was Shawne Merriman in 2005. His first practice was four days after veterans reported that year.

    Mathews cited the dates of July 25, when Chargers rookies report, and July 30, when the Chargers hold their first full-squad workout, and said signing “any time in there would be fine.”
    The player expected to take over for LaDainian Tomlinson as the team’s primary ball carrier has demonstrated in several conversations since the Chargers moved up 16 spots to select him 12th overall that he might be the type to sign on time. And his agent, Frank Bauer, is one of the rare agents Smith speaks to personally. According to several who were present, Smith and Bauer engaged in a lengthy conversation at Fresno State’s Pro Day this spring.

    Still, Mathews sounded a slightly more pragmatic tone Monday than when he talked last month at the NFL Rookie Symposium.

    “It’s also a business,” Mathews said. “That’s what I have to realize. … I want to be on time. Hopefully that happens. If not, there’s nothing I can do.”
    First-rounders are always the last to sign, because of the money and more complicated contracts involved. With a possible lockout looming in 2011, the signings at the top of the draft could take even longer.

    If a new collective bargaining agreement is not reached, the suspicion is that the owners will lock out players on the first day of the new league year, at the beginning of March.

    At issue for all new contracts, including those of rookies, is when certain bonuses would be due. If, for instance, a player signs a deal with a bonus due March 15, 2011, he would not get that bonus if a lockout has already commenced.

    The Chargers obviously want Mathews to sign in a timely manner. He has much to learn and will be a key part of what the club hopes will be a resurgent running game.

    But with Darren Sproles available as a third-down back and fill-in, Mathews will be eased into some of the more intricate facets of the game in 2010.

    The last rookie running back being counted on to start for the Chargers was Tomlinson in 2001. He didn’t sign until Aug. 21 and went on to gain 1,236 yards and score 10 touchdowns in his first season.

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