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Chargers count on Brees again

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Dec 15, 2005.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: <a href="http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051215/SPORTS03/512150478/1004/SPORTS" target="_blank">IndyStar.com</a>

    By Phil Richards

    <img src="http://bolttalk.com/images/brees17.jpg" class="right" alt="Brees scrambles against the Colts" />When San Diego traded for Philip Rivers on draft day in 2004, the intent was to acquire a franchise quarterback. It turned out the Chargers already had one.

    When Rivers missed most of training camp because of a contract dispute, Drew Brees took the starting job and ran with it. Brees completed 65.5 percent of his passes for 3,159 yards and 27 touchdowns with only seven interceptions. The Chargers went from 4-12 to 12-4. Brees went to the Pro Bowl.

    Rather than rewarding him with the long-term contract he sought, San Diego designated him its "franchise player." He got a one-year contract for $8.1 million. It's a nice payday, but it amounts to his second consecutive one-year tryout.

    Brees, who will lead the Chargers (8-5) in a crucial showdown with the Indianapolis Colts (13-0) at the RCA Dome on Sunday, chooses not to look at it that way.

    "Even if you're locked into a long-term contract, every year you've got to re-prove yourself," the 2000 Purdue All-American said during a Wednesday teleconference. "There's always, always somebody creeping up behind you, and there's always that ultimate goal of winning a championship. Until you're able to do that consistently and have that as your expectation every year, then obviously you can never be satisfied."

    Brees has backed up his big year. He ranks fourth in the NFL in passer rating, at 92.9. He has thrown for 3,092 yards and 22 touchdowns with 12 interceptions. He is on pace to pass for 3,800 yards and become the second player in franchise history to surpass 3,500. The other is Pro Football Hall of Fame member Dan Fouts, who did it five times.

    None of that matters at the moment. Nor does Brees' contract status. If the playoffs were to begin today, the Chargers would be spectators. They are the AFC's seventh seed in a six-team chase, and the identity of San Diego's quarterback of the future is not a pressing issue in any case, coach Marty Schottenheimer said.

    "Our approach is that we'll visit all of those things at the conclusion of the season," Schottenheimer said. "I don't think it's an unreasonable expectation that they'll both still be here."

    With the NFL salary cap to move to between $92 million and $95 million in 2006, up from $85.5 million, the Chargers are projected to be as much as $20 million under the threshold. They have money to spend and general manager A.J. Smith has said the team might invoke any of four options: Put the franchise tag on Brees again, franchise him and trade him, sign him to a long-term contract or let him go as a free agent.

    San Diego acquired Rivers by taking Eli Manning with the first pick of the 2004 draft, then trading him to the New York Giants, who had taken Rivers at No. 4. Manning had told the Chargers he would not play for them.

    Instead, it's Rivers who doesn't play. He completed 5-of-8 passes while appearing in two games last season. This year, he has thrown four fewer passes than running back LaDainian Tomlinson, who is 3-for-4. Rivers knelt on the final snap at Buffalo last month in his only game action.

    "I just don't see it going into another year with this same situation," Rivers told The Associated Press earlier this season. "I don't see the team wanting to do it and I'm obviously not going to be real fired up to do it. And I think at that point it's not being selfish.

    "Who's the guy, and go. If it's Drew, it's Drew. I'm pulling for him. There's no . . . animosity."

    Brees confirmed the relationship is warm and constructive. That's good, because the Chargers have been up against it all year. Sunday is a must-win game in a season of must-win games. San Diego got off to a 3-4 start.

    The Chargers close at Indianapolis, at Kansas City (8-5) and at home with Denver (10-3). That's a 31-8 gauntlet.

    "We'll just kind of take it one at a time these last three," Brees said. "They're definitely must wins if we want to control our own destiny."

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