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Chargers QBs: Stop making sense, and maybe you'll get it

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Oct 19, 2005.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: <a href="http://www.sportsline.com/nfl/story/8980700" target="_blank">CBS Sportsline
    By Clark Judge

    The San Diego Chargers' acquisition of quarterback A. J. Feeley is supposed to end the Drew Brees-Philip Rivers controversy ... and maybe it will. But you better be careful here. Feeley may have no impact on the futures of either.

    I know that sounds crazy, but I also know how Chargers general manager A.J. Smith operates -- and Smith acquired Feeley more with this season in mind than next.

    K, so that doesn't look right, either, especially with Rivers backing up Brees. But Smith likes to position himself with depth at key spots to protect against injuries. And he has that now at quarterback.

    But let's forget about this season. The question is: What happens in 2006 when the Chargers must decide again on Brees or Rivers? Logic says that with Feeley on the scene, the team will re-sign Brees -- who continues to play at a level that earned him last year's NFL comeback player of the year award -- and peddle Rivers to the highest bidder.

    It makes sense. Only it may not happen.

    With the Chargers an estimated $16 million under the salary cap for next season, Smith has latitude to go in several directions -- including retaining all three quarterbacks. OK, that doesn't make sense, either, but wasn't it this time last year that we said keeping Brees and Rivers in 2005 was unfathomable?

    "Now," Smith said a couple of weeks ago, "if someone is unhappy or doesn't want to work or has an attitude problem, then we will address it. And then we will move on."

    He demonstrated it Tuesday when he shipped offensive lineman Toniu Fonoti to Minnesota for a conditional draft pick. Fonoti, who becomes an unrestricted free agent after this season, had fallen out of favor with the club and was sent to the Vikings (New Orleans also was interested) for a seventh-round draft choice that becomes a sixth if he dresses for six games or starts three.

    Rivers is another matter. No one with the club is unhappy with him. In fact, the Chargers are enamored with the guy and believe he could be a franchise quarterback, given the chance. But that's the problem: He can't get on the field in San Diego because Brees won't let him.

    Rivers has expressed interest in moving on if he can't supplant Brees by next season, but remember: He's under contract, and the Chargers like him. Besides, his 2006 base salary is a relatively small $615,000. They don't have to do anything with Rivers, though his trade value diminishes with each year he sits.

    Smith understands that. But he's all about making the Chargers a better team now, and if he feels they're better with Rivers backing up Brees, and with Feeley backing up both of them, then no one leaves -- and the club is protected at its most important position.

    The most unlikely scenario has the Chargers allowing Brees to walk after his contract expires at the end of this season. If that happened they risk an uncertain future, and, as evidence, one general manager pointed to Buffalo's experiment with J.P. Losman. The Bills released veteran Drew Bledsoe and put the ball in Losman's hands -- only to bench him after losing three of their first four.

    "If the Chargers made Rivers the starter they would go backward, too," said an AFC player personnel director, "because the guy hasn't played. And what happens if Rivers struggles? You're going to rely on A.J. Feeley? I don't think so."

    One thing I learned a long time ago about A.J. Smith is never to stick him in a corner. He doesn't like it. He tries to avoid getting in awkward or uncomfortable positions, and he's done that here. He could do nothing. Or he could, as one GM said, make both Brees and Rivers available, then see who gains the better offer.

    The point is: Anything is possible. And so is nothing.

    All I know is that Smith is in an enviable position. He just picked up one sixth-round draft pick for Feeley and has an almost certain second sixth-rounder coming for Fonoti. That would give San Diego three sixth-rounders for next April's draft and more ammunition to build for the future.

    The sixth-round draft pick is more significant to the Chargers than Feeley. The importance of Feeley is what his arrival portends for Drew Brees and Philip Rivers. I don't know that it means anything. What I do know is that A.J. Smith did not acquire Feeley to make one of his other quarterbacks expendable.

    He acquired him as an insurance policy for this season. Period.

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