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Hello? Chargers making strange choice in letting Brees walk

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Mar 8, 2006.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: <a target="_blank" href="http://cbs.sportsline.com/nfl/story/9292502/">CBS Sportsline</a>

    By Clark Judge

    <img align="left" alt="Drew Brees" id="image2018" title="Drew Brees" src="http://bolttalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2006/03/brees2.jpg" />For the life of me, I can't believe things have gone this far. I'm not talking about the NFL's labor talks; I'm talking about the San Diego Chargers and quarterback Drew Brees.

    Brees is the guy who led the Chargers to 21 wins the last two years and their first division title since 1994. He's also the first legitimate quarterback the club's had since Stan Humphries back in the 1990s.

    Yet, here we are, on the cusp of free agency, and the Chargers seem content to let him walk without gaining anything in return.

    It doesn't matter that Brees wants to stay in San Diego. It doesn't matter that he offered to do a one-year deal with the team. It doesn't even matter that he met privately with team president Dean Spanos to make a case for staying.

    He's about to become an unrestricted free agent and take his considerable skills to the open market where someone -- Miami, Minnesota, Green Bay, I don't know -- signs him and turns him into its franchise quarterback.

    The knock on Brees is that a shoulder injury he suffered in the season-ending game against Denver is worse than the club imagined -- so bad, in fact, that his future could be in doubt.

    That's true. At least part of it is. A statement recently released by Dr. James Andrews, the orthopedic surgeon who repaired a torn labrum in Brees' throwing shoulder, said the quarterback also damaged the rotator cuff. That was the first we heard about that.

    But Andrews also said that Brees' rehabilitation was four weeks ahead of schedule and that he anticipated him making a "full recovery" this season and participating "at a high level." That was the first we heard of that, too.

    Question: If Brees can play, why would the Chargers risk losing him? No, why would they practically drive him away? Brees wonders the same thing. Prior to last month's NFL scouting combine he met with Spanos to make a case for staying -- basically going to the most important man in the organization to plead his case -- with no apparent success.

    The Chargers insist they offered him an attractive multi-year deal, loaded with incentives, and would like him to sign it. But they also didn't protect him, which tells you they're OK with losing the guy to a higher bidder -- perhaps because they're scared off by Brees' injury.

    But that's only part of the explanation. The club also has millions invested in Philip Rivers, the first-round draft pick of 2004, and general manager A.J. Smith is as high on him today as he was when he traded Eli Manning for the former North Carolina State star and a passel of draft picks.

    He believes Rivers can start, and he believes he can win. Only one problem there, folks: Rivers neither played nor won the last two years because there was a better quarterback ahead of him.

    And that was Drew Brees.

    Now the club will let him walk, and don't ask the head coach why. Marty Schottenheimer is on record as saying he doesn't like the decision, and if I were he, I wouldn't either. It reminds me of something the club did in 1991 when it was tethered to the bottom of the AFC West. It traded away starting quarterback Billy Joe Tolliver the week before the season opener and turned the team over to John Friesz, then in his second year -- all without having the head coach sign off on the move.

    Predictably, the Chargers stunk, with Friesz struggling in his first season of starting. After the season, the club fired coach Dan Henning.

    Granted, Rivers is an upgrade from Friesz. And there are mitigating circumstances with Brees -- most notably that sore right shoulder. But Schottenheimer is on the same slippery slope as Henning, in danger of getting canned if he doesn't win with Philip Rivers, and good luck there.

    One week after the end of last season, Spanos told the San Diego Union-Tribune that he expected to win next year -- adding that no one in the organization anticipated anything less. Well, I do if they have Philip Rivers throwing downfield, and that's no dig at Rivers. He could be the second coming of Dan Fouts, but he's thrown 30 passes in the NFL for crying out loud.

    You want to pin your playoff hopes on that resume? Not me. Give me something more. Give me a safety net with Drew Brees attached to it.

    OK, OK, so nobody knows if Brees will be the same. Nobody knows when he will be ready to throw, either. But I'll tell you what: If I'm Marty Schottenheimer ... no, if I'm the San Diego Chargers ... I feel a whole lot better about my situation at quarterback knowing that he's around.

    It would be one thing if the Chargers didn't have the cap room to afford Brees. But they do. They have plenty of room, close to $25 million of it, and Brees offered to take a one-year deal to let them off the hook in case his shoulder is worse than Andrews believes. That's how much faith he has that he can play.

    "In my opinion," Schottenheimer told the Union-Tribune, "we're a lot better off if Drew Brees is here."

    I'll second that. The guy is 27. He's 21-11 the past two years. He was named to the Pro Bowl. He set a club record for passing efficiency. He threw 51 touchdowns and 22 interceptions in 2004-05. He's coming off a season where he had a career-best 3,576 yards passing. And he doesn't really want to become a free agent.

    What's not to like? Better ask the Chargers. They're about to take an unnecessary gamble they could regret.

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