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Smith outlines offseason plan

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Feb 20, 2006.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    Source: <a target="_blank" href="http://www.chargers.com/">Chargers.com</a>

    <a target="_blank" href="http://play.rbn.com/?url=nfl/nfl/open/chargers/demand/2006/022006_Smith.rm">Watch Press Conference Video</a>
    <img width="264" height="134" alt="AJ Smith" id="image1955" src="http://bolttalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2006/02/agdeallingwthagnts_343x175.jpg" />

    By Casey Pearce

    Chargers General Manager A.J. Smith addressed the San Diego media Monday afternoon to recap what has already been a busy offseason and layout the team's general plan for the coming weeks.

    "The new year is upon us."  We're excited about building our team," Smith said."  "We've had some time to reflect."  We've put the pieces together."  We've got to get good players in here to add to the ones that we have."  I like the mix, but we all know that obviously the more players that you have, it enhances your opportunity and chance to be successful."  We need to do that, and we'll continue to do that."

    Smith discussed the status of 19 free agent players, but focus was on where the organization stands with one in particular." "  The Chargers will not designate quarterback Drew Brees as neither their franchise nor transition player, meaning that the team will either reach a long-term agreement with their 2005 starter or see him hit the free agent market.

    "We were very concerned about the guaranteed numbers, which is pretty old news now," Smith said."  "It's been out there."  The franchise tag as we know is guaranteed."  The transition tag would have been flexible."  It's no longer flexible from what I understand."  If it's the transition tag, it's solid number."  We didn't want to invest that solid number at this point in time."

    However, Smith did reiterate that the Chargers and Brees hope to agree on a long-term contract.

    "We cannot get it done at this point in time, so right now we have two out of the three (quarterbacks from last year)," Smith said."  "Where it goes from there, we shall see."  We have a value on our players and contracts, and they have a value on it."  We're just not agreeing to terms."

    "We've had a proposal that has been rejected."  We'll continue to talk."  How long that goes, to what point in time I just can't tell you right now because I just know that we're talking."  But we're pretty firm in what we believe and how we do things."

    With free agency set to open on March 3, Smith and his staff have been busy working out contracts for several Chargers set to hit the open market."  Going into the offseason, the Bolts had eight players who were to become restricted free agents."  In recent weeks, the team came to terms with defensive lineman Jacques Cesaire (five years), fullback Andrew Pinnock (five years), wide receiver Kassim Osgood (four years) and safety Clinton Hart (three years).

    "Jacques is a backup defensive end and nose tackle and a very major part of our program," Smith said."  "Hart is a versatile strong safety, free safety and special teams contributor."  Osgood is a rising wide receiver and an outstanding special teams player."  Andrew Pinnock is a fullback/running back and a heck of a running back."  We don't talk much about that, but he's a versatile guy and a special teams contributor."  We're very pleased to have them all back."

    Linebackers Stephen Cooper and Matt Wilhelm and guard Kris Dielman will be tendered contract offers."  The value of their tender will be announced on March 2."  Offensive tackle Courtney VanBuren, who spent the 2005 season on injured reserve, will not be tendered, meaning that the team plans to move in another direction.

    In regards to unrestricted free agents, the club has already reached an agreement with linebacker Carlos Polk."  Smith does not expect to sign any of the remaining unrestricted players before March 3, meaning wide receiver Reche Caldwell, cornerback Jamar Fletcher, guard Bob Hallen, linebacker Ben Leber, tight end Justin Peelle and defensive end DeQuincy Scott will all test the free agent waters.

    "We will stay in touch with everyone throughout the process," Smith said."  "We will have dialogue with all players."  Everyone is open minded to the process."

    Smith also said that the team has informed safety Jerry Wilson that he will be released."  Exclusive rights free agents Drew Haddad, Howard Hodges and Calvin Murray will not be tendered contract offers.

    When free agency begins next week, the Chargers are prepared to be fairly active."  Thanks in large part to the work of Vice President of Football Operations Ed McGuire, who manages the team's salary cap, the team is in a favorable situation to bring players in.

    "We have a lot of money to do a lot of things," Smith said."  "We've had room the last couple of years and will next year also."

    Smith indicated that the positions the team will most heavily target are safety, cornerback, offensive line and tight end.

    "We will go window shopping and see what's going on out there," Smith said."  "We have some thoughts right now."  We're exploring the possibility of looking to add some competition in the secondary, be it corner or safety."  I'd like to create some excitement back there and get some competition going."  (We're looking) possibly at tight end for depth."  Ryan Krause was on IR and Justin Peelle is unrestricted."  We're a little thin there, so we're going to look around and see if we can do something at the tight end position."  And we're always, always looking at offensive line, in particular offensive tackle."

    When approaching free agency, Smith will look to upgrade the roster with quality players who are also quality people.

    "We want guys who are very talented with a work ethic, passion for the game – things that we've talked about before – tough, competitive, physical, committed guys who are team-oriented players," Smith said."  "I think if you get that mix, you're going to be in good shape to continue on."  San Diego Charger-type players is what I'm really saying."  We're going to add to the group that we have."

    The Chargers hope to again use a solid draft to bolster their roster as well."  On Tuesday, Smith, Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer and several members of the Chargers' coaching and personnel staffs will travel to Indianapolis for the NFL scouting combine.

    "I have no preliminary thoughts of what direction we're going in, but we're ranking players as we go to the combine so that we can tighten that up, and then the workouts begin," Smith said."  "We'll formulate a plan at a later time."  We begin the draft meetings April 17."  The draft as you know is April 29-30."  We have nine selections."  We've got two sixes and two sevens."  We've got nine for now, but as we know, we may end up with less." "  We may end up with more depending on the activity that unfolds during the draft process."  The bottom line is that we're always looking for ways to make our football team better."
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