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Bottom line: Chargers' success will mean some losses

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by boltmanbz, Feb 27, 2008.

  1. boltmanbz

    boltmanbz Well-Known Member

    Oct 16, 2006

    http://www.signonsandiego.com/sports/chargers/20080227-9999-1s27chargers.htmlFuture free agents likely to seek suitors
    By Kevin Acee

    February 27, 2008

    The storm is coming, far enough away that its harshest winds can't be felt, yet close enough that preparations are under way.

    The air is calm now, but dark clouds are forming, and a breeze makes A.J. Smith pull his coat tight, fix his steely gaze on the horizon and for a moment express moderate concern.

    “It will get harder,” the Chargers general manager said.

    The NFL free-agency period begins Friday at 9:01 p.m., and no big-name free agents will be coming to San Diego. The team that lost in the AFC Championship Game has all but two starters returning, and those replacements are already on the roster.

    The Chargers are largely set.

    For now.

    While their nearly $23 million in space below the salary cap is their most in Smith's six-year tenure, they won't spend much of that money on free agents.

    Not only do they not need a new front-line player this year, they are going to need every penny they have in the coming years.

    “Everything plays in,” Smith said. “You can rearrange your future.”

    The team that has signed more of its own young players to long-term contracts than any other in the NFL faces an unprecedented conglomeration of its stars being on the verge of demanding and receiving big money – either here or elsewhere.

    The difference between what Smith, team President Dean Spanos and Vice President Ed McGuire were able to pull off in those 20 renegotiated deals since 2004 and what they face in the coming years is the volume and quality of players and the staggering money it will take to sign them.

    “We will lose players,” said Smith, who is constantly looking two and three years ahead when assessing his team.

    The contracts of five young starters, all of whom have been voted to at least one Pro Bowl, must be addressed soon. And that doesn't count the looming contract expirations of defensive end Igor Olshansky after the 2008 season and defensive end Luis Castillo and wide receiver Vincent Jackson after '09.

    At least one of those eight players – likely more – is going to be a former Charger at some point.

    “When you have great players, you know you are going to lose some,” Smith said last week at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, where the Chargers commenced extension talks with at least one agent for one of those starters. “ . . . It usually gets more difficult with the more success you have and the greater the players.”

    The contracts of left tackle Marcus McNeill, linebacker Shawne Merriman and quarterback Philip Rivers expire after the 2009 season. After 2010, the contracts of cornerback Antonio Cromartie and tight end Antonio Gates are up.

    While 2010 seems like a long way off, the urgency of getting to the table with Cromartie and Gates is almost equal to that of the 2009 trio.

    Cromartie, after a season in which he led the league with 10 interceptions, is perhaps in line to become the NFL's first $100 million cornerback. The contracts of a few other top cornerbacks – none with the upside of Cromartie – will likely continue to climb near that level, and the Chargers do not want to wait too long. They will likely get serious in talks with Cromartie's agent after this season.

    Gates, who will have toe surgery this week, has made three Pro Bowls since signing his relatively modest contract before the 2005 season. He is among the best tight ends in the game, and would be justified in feeling underpaid. Sources said he is searching for a new agent.

    As for McNeill, Merriman and Rivers, all acquired in drafts between 2004 and '06 and all due to be free agents after 2009, a few factors add to the intrigue of their coming due at the same time.

    They all play crucial positions, Merriman is a bona fide star in the league and the other two have that capability, and all three have big-name agents who have in the past tangled unpleasantly with Smith.

    It does, of course, take both sides to get a deal done. But the longer the team waits – provided the players in question continue to perform at a high level – the more the team will have to pay, as other deals with top players push the market higher.

    “I'm aware of the market,” Smith said. “It means nothing to me.”

    It is a fact, however, that the market shapes what a player will ask for and what he will ultimately get. Historically, the Chargers have paid what they have wanted to pay (and nothing more) for most of the players Smith has signed over the past four years. Interestingly, though, the two exceptions have been top-flight players. In 2004, the Chargers made LaDainian Tomlinson the league's highest-paid running back. And last offseason, after essentially extending their final offer and having left guard Kris Dielman in Seattle almost ready to sign with the Seahawks, the Chargers upped their offer again and came to terms with Dielman. Still, Dielman accepted less than he could have gotten in Seattle or Cleveland because he wanted to stay.

    Will Merriman do that? McNeill? Jackson? Cromartie?

    Agents for some of the eight players were mum on the record about their clients' options and desires for future contract numbers. But suffice it to say that, as of now, they plan on getting market value for their clients.

    “The numbers we wanted were acceptable to a lot of guys,” Smith said. “We deal with a lot of people. . . . I don't know what the dollar signs will be. This happens to great players. They are in position to go to free agency and get tremendous deals.”

    Kevin Acee: (619) 293-1857; kevin.acee@uniontrib.com
  2. Stan_The_Man_12

    Stan_The_Man_12 BoltTalker

    Jan 7, 2008

    Not to rain on the gloom and doom of kevin Acee, but the great thang about having AJ as your GM signed through 2014 [assuming the Maya calendar is wrong] is that he will figure out a way of keeping the Chargers a sucessful franchise long after this article becomes it's final destiny which is to line the bottom of a canary cage.

    Sucessful franchises/talentfilled teams always have FA's leave for greener paychecks, somehow NOW is more important to me than 2009.

    Stan :rivers17:
  3. boltmanbz

    boltmanbz Well-Known Member

    Oct 16, 2006
    ahah yep Acee must be bored he needs to find something else to right about cause this isnt worrying anyone
  4. cranberry

    cranberry BoltTalker

    Oct 3, 2006
    No worries about loosing FA in the future. The heroes have to show it on the field. They got to step higher this year. I want a Lombardi for LT !
  5. matilack

    matilack Take A Knee McCree!!!

    Aug 14, 2006
    How much would dropping players like LoNeal, Marlon McCree Eric Parker, Shane Olivea, Mike Goff, and possibly Jamal Williams in the next few years get us?

    Acee is looking too far ahead without taking into account the "B class" players we will lose between now and then.

    Money will crop up for guys like Rivers, Gates, McNeil, Castillo, and hopefully Cromartie.........Merriman I'm not so sure about, he seems the selfish type.
  6. wrbanwal

    wrbanwal Well-Known Member

    Dec 27, 2005
    doubters, all of them. no wonder the people of SD can't get a new stadium done

  7. Bergo23

    Bergo23 BoltTalker

    Sep 28, 2006
    The other factor besides B player defections is the Cap goes up every year the NFL gets Billions richer. I do think we will have to let one or two go, but by no means will they be irreplaceable players. Brees wasn't, and neither will the next Pro Bowler. "I am aware of the market, it doesn't concern me" CLASSIC AJ!!!!
  8. AnteaterCharger

    AnteaterCharger Carpe Diem et omni Mundio Staff Member Super Moderator Podcaster

    Jan 19, 2006
    while a steadily increasing cap will help, lets face facts; this is something charger fans have been considering as on the horizon with so many key players coming up all at once. This is a big big big issue. I'm not nearly as melodramatic as Acee is, though he's a journalist and its obvious why he wants the 'aura' in there. Still this is a major issue and it probably a nil chance we escape with ALL those player still signed come 2013
  9. Ride The Lightning

    Ride The Lightning Join the Dark Side, we have cookies.

    Aug 15, 2006
    This is why we need to win a Super Bowl NOW while we've still got all these guys under contract. The time is NOW.
  10. loweezy

    loweezy BoltTalker

    Nov 26, 2006
    How do you make that assumption? He holds an annual coat drive for the homeless. He helped rebuild a family's house that was burned down in the SD fires. He is very active in the community. Selfish? I think you're just blinded by his charisma and confidence... it has nothing to do with selfishness.
    • Like Like x 1
  11. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

    Every talented team goes through this. Hopefully some of our bigger name players will stick around. IMO, it depends upon increased success, the attitude of the coaches.front office, cap increases, & settling the stadium issue.
  12. Electric Chair

    Electric Chair Well-Known Member

    May 23, 2006
    I'm thinking that we should quit now and avoid the inevitable.
    • Like Like x 1
  13. in_a_days

    in_a_days dgaf

    Sep 8, 2006
    Holy baseless speculation, Batman!

    BOLTS4LIFE Banned Banned

    Oct 13, 2006
    Selfish is not the right word but I think what matilack is referring too is how Merriman was having problems with his contract in the beginning due to the agents he hired.

    Hopefully, he learned through a mistake.

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