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Inside Slant

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Feb 22, 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">The Chargers have said they will not slap the franchise tag on Drew Brees, who now appears headed for free agency.</div>
    <p class="intro-copy">The Chargers have offered a multi-year contract to Brees but have yet to settle on common ground.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">The negotiations with Brees take on an interesting dynamic as he is coming off surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right (throwing) shoulder. Brees and the Chargers' medical staff stress that Brees will be fine and the injury he suffered in the season finale won't hamper his arm strength.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">But the Chargers won't know that for sure before they have to decide whether to bring him back or not. So it might be difficult agreeing on a long-term deal with Brees in that the Chargers will need to protect themselves in case there are complications from his surgery.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy"> They could also do that by loading up the contract with performance-based escalators. But Brees might be looking for more of a guarantee-laden pact after directing the Chargers to 21 wins the last two years, one of which ended with a Pro Bowl selection.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">Or the Chargers could avoid tagging him - the cost is some $9.7 as a franchise player; about $1 million lower as a transition player - and let him test the market. They would be rolling the dice that no team would offer Brees a big-time deal considering his medical status.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">And if someone did give Brees a rich proposal and the Chargers declined to get into a bidding war, many feel general manager A.J. Smith is confident Philip Rivers could move into the starting role. And if Rivers struggled, he would have a fall-back plan in No. 3 quarterback A.J. Feeley.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">The Chargers' offseason plans had a monkey wrench thrown in them when Brees was hurt. But it also might give them some leverage to lowball Brees with a multi-year offer, and ending up keeping him at possibly a below market rate because of his injury.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy"><strong>NOTES, QUOTES</strong></p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-DT Jamal Williams celebrated his first Pro Bowl selection by taking Wayne Nunnely, his only NFL position coach, with him. The two share a close relationship, on and off the field.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-General manager A.J. Smith is still burning over his team failing to make the playoffs for the ninth time in the last 10 years. Especially after seeing the Steelers, a team the Chargers nearly beat during the regular season, win it all. "I'm extremely disappointed that, as talented as we are, this football team wasn't given the opportunity to get into the postseason and make a run for it."</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-Backup QB Philip Rivers, the subject of countless trade rumors, isn't going anywhere. "I don't know how many times I have to say it, we aren't trading Philip Rivers," Smith stressed.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-QB Drew Brees is upbeat over the progress he is making in rehabbing his right shoulder. "I'm ahead of schedule, but I still probably won't start throwing until May," he said.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-Might Saints C LeCharles Bentley end up with the Chargers? There's little doubt the free agent is fond of offensive line coach Jack Henry, who was hired by the Chargers after working last year with Bentley in New Orleans. "Jack was a great coach obviously. Most importantly, was a better person and he was the type of coach that as a player you really wanted to play well for, because obviously the better you played, the better he looked and there was a relationship in that aspect. You never wanted to make him look bad, because he was such a great person and he really wanted you to do well. You always wanted to make him happy and make him proud."</p>
    <p class="intro-copy"><strong>QUOTE TO NOTE:</strong> "I'm just trying to figure out how to get us into postseason play," - GM A. J. Smith, on his goal for the off-season.</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">PLAYERS RE-SIGNED</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-QB A. J. Feeley: contract extension; 2 yrs/$2 million.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-S Clinton Hart; RFA; 3 yrs/terms unknown</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-WR Kassim Osgood: RFA; 4 yrs/terms unknown</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-DE Jacques Cesaire: RFA; 5 yrs/terms unknown</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-LB Carlos Polk: UFA; 1 yr/terms unknown</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-FB Andrew Pinnock: RFA/5 yrs/terms unknown</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">MEDICAL WATCH</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-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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