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Inside Slant

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Feb 26, 2006.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: <a target="_blank" href="http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/chargers/home.htm">USA Today</a>
    <div class="intro-copy">Drew Brees could be gone with the wind.</div>
    <p class="intro-copy">The Chargers talented quarterback will likely be allowed to negotiate with others clubs once next week's free-agency market opens. Brees, despite being a Pro Bowl first alternate last year and a Pro Bowler the year before that, wasn't designated with the franchise or transition tag.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">Brees and the Chargers continue to talk regarding a six-year deal, which is heavy on incentives because of Brees' coming off a shoulder surgery in his throwing arm. But with little progress to speak of, it looks like Brees will be on the market soon.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy"> What general manager A. J. Smith made clear was the team's compensation won't change dramatically if he receives other rich offers.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">"There is no price going up," Smith said. " We already have a value set in our mind, and that's not a factor at all. We know exactly what we're doing. We have a way of doing our business. We're negotiating right now and we'll continue."</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">But Smith - who is concerned about giving Brees a big bonus because of his shoulder injury - talks like a man fully prepared to move on. If it's with Brees, great. If not, Philip Rivers is at the ready.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">"If it should happen to be Philip, there should be some bumps in the road," Smith said. "My hopes are that if it should be him, let's say hypothetically - and I don't like to participate in that but I will in this occasion - that if Philip is the quarterback and Drew is not here, I would hope that the football team that we have would be solid on defense, maybe just get a little better. I'd hope the offense would be able to prosper and the running back, shore up that line and have that punter maintain his excellence and have that kicker we have maintain his excellence.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">"We'd have a pretty good football team and maybe that young guy with some bumps in the road could maintain a bit and help us progress."</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">But what Rivers, a third-year pro with 30 NFL passes, can't deliver - not right away anyway - is the leadership qualities which oozed from Brees. While no one will argue Pro Bowl running back LaDainian Tomlinson is the heart-and-soul of the team, there's also no question its leader is Brees.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">The former second-round pick has been dumped on many times by the Chargers and their fans. And each time he dusted himself off and responded with production and panache. If Brees were to exit, someone would have to fill a considerable leadership void.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">That's what makes Smith's moves more puzzling. He talks constantly about taking care of his own players and how much importance he puts on the type of person a player is. Brees is among the team's hardest workers and vocal leaders. His loss would be felt more than in reading the passing statistics.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy"><strong>NOTES, QUOTES</strong></p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-Despite having three first-rounders in the secondary. GM A. J. Smith left little doubt he'll be looking for upgrades in the Chargers' sorry pass defense. "I'd like to create some excitement back there and get some competition going," he said.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-FS Jerry Wilson, a two-year starter before losing his job last year to Bhawoh Jue, was released.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-The team became weary on T Courtney VanBuren's trouble with his knees so they will not tender the restricted free agent an offer.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-TE Justin Peelle was thought to be part of the team's future plans. But he is an unrestricted free agent and Smith tipped his hand that the team will be looking at free agents at that position.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-The city of Oceanside, which is some 40 miles north of San Diego, is considering building a stadium for the Chargers.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-Golfer Phil Mickelson weighed in on the Drew Brees' situation at a recent event at La Costa. Mickelson, a San Diego native, is a huge Chargers fan. "I hope it's Drew," he said, when asked his preference to be the Chargers quarterback.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy"><strong>QUOTE TO NOTE:</strong> "I can't even count how many guys have called me. Obviously, they want this thing to work out and they are asking me if there is anything they can do to help." - QB Drew Brees on the reaction from his teammates over his stalemate with the Chargers.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy"><strong>STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL</strong></p>
    <p class="intro-copy">TEAM NEEDS/OFF-SEASON STRATEGY</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">The top decision revolves around Brees, and how the Chargers will approach their future with him. But they also have to look hard at the secondary, the lack of consistency along the offensive line and the lack of depth at wide receiver.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">The Chargers also need to decide if they're bringing back inside linebacker Ben Leber, an unrestricted free agent who was a starter for 3 1/2 years before the arrival of Shawne Merriman. Leber is pretty solid, especially against the run. But the team might spend money earmarked for him elsewhere, confident Merriman can be an every down player. Surprisingly, Merriman was often off the field on passing downs in his rookie season. So the team is pretty certain Merriman is stout enough to play on the running downs, which was once Leber's forte.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">1. Cornerback: The Chargers were stingy against the run but struggled defending the pass, finishing near the bottom once again. The brass once said the lack of production against the pass was because of a tepid pass rush - that's no longer the case. Despite having three first-rounders at this position - Quentin Jammer, Sammy Davis and Jamar Fletcher - the pass defense continues to be the team's Achilles' heel. Something must be fixed here to get the unit some balance.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">2. Offensive line: Despite finishing in the top 10 of every critical rushing category, the Chargers thought so little of their line play that they fired offensive line coach Carl Mauck with one year left on his contract. A great fit here might be Saints center LeCharles Bentley, a free agent with ties to new line coach Jack Henry; Henry was with the Saints last year.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">3. Wide receiver: Keenan McCardell isn't getting any younger and the team will likely give up on Reche Caldwell, a second-round bust. There is hope for Vincent Jackson and Eric Parker has proven he can be a reliable No. 2 or No. 3 receiver. Keep an eye on Steelers free agent Antwaan Randle El. Not only could he help in the passing game, but the Chargers are also looking for a punt returner, a role Randle El could fill. Plus, he's a familiar face to offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, as Randle El was his quarterback at Indiana University when Cameron was the head coach there.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">TRANSITION PLAYER: None.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: QB Drew Brees; WR Reche Caldwell; CB Jamar Fletcher; OG Bob Hallen; ILB Ben Leber; TE Justin Peelle; DE DeQuincy Scott.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: ILB Stephen Cooper; OL Kris Dielman; OL Courtney VanBuren; LB Matt Wilhelm.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: WR Drew Haddad; LB Howard Hodges; RB Calvin Murray.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: S Clinton Hart; WR Kassim Osgood; DE Jacques Cesaire; LB Carlos Polk; FB Andrew Pinnock.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">PLAYERS LOST: S Jerry Wilson.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">MEDICAL WATCH: QB Drew Brees is pointing toward May to throw his first pass since having his torn labrum repaired in his right shoulder. The team is hopeful he'll be full strength by July's training camp.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-LB Donnie Edwards had arthroscopic knee surgery and will be fine for the minicamps.</p>

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