The Official BLOG of

You are currently NOT on the Homepage
Please send any questions or comments to:

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Chargers vow to regroup

Source: SD Tribune

As the Chargers and their faithful take tepid steps away from the carnage of one of the worst losses in franchise history, there are some things to know and some things to wonder about.

First, the head coach isn’t going anywhere. Norv Turner signed a three-year contract extension yesterday.

Second, the general manager isn’t going anywhere. A.J. Smith’s five-year extension hasn’t even officially begun.

Third, Nate Kaeding isn’t going anywhere. The kicker’s six-year body of work and a $12.65 million contract that runs through 2012 will keep him a Charger for 2010, at least.

As for a number of other players …

This could be as eventful an offseason as there has been in the Smith era.

LaDainian Tomlinson has almost certainly run his last play as a Charger, though he said he isn’t finished playing.

“It’s not the time,” he said yesterday. “I will play next year. I obviously want to still play football. I think I can be productive, I’m not saying I’d get 1,800 yards, I believe I can absolutely be a 1,200-yard rusher.”

Tomlinson is signed through 2011. Under terms of his renegotiated deal, he is due $2 million in a roster bonus in March, which means the Chargers will make public their plans for him by then. Tomlinson, due $5 million in total, is guaranteed $1 million even if the Chargers release him.

“What’s going to happen,” he said, “no one knows.”

Several other key Chargers have reached the end of their contracts, though they may yet remain under the team’s control due to the in-flux state of the collective bargaining agreement.

Malcom Floyd, Vincent Jackson, Marcus McNeill, Shawne Merriman, Darren Sproles and seven other players are due to be unrestricted free agents but could be restricted if, as expected, a new CBA is not agreed to and 2010 has no salary cap.

Assuming there is no cap, it will be interesting to see what tenders the Chargers place on the aforementioned five players.

A restricted free agent can negotiate with other teams, but his current team is entitled to compensation based on which tender it places on him (first-round, first- and third-round, second-round or third-round).

“We will now take a step back and assess our team,” Smith said yesterday. “We have lots to think about and lots to do, as always. As an organization we will regroup and start building next year’s team. We will do everything we can to build a championship team.”

Smith likely won’t be heard from again until around March 4, the day the current league year expires and a new one is set to begin (at 9:01 p.m. PT). Yesterday, he took a moment to reflect before looking forward.

“The sudden end to the dream is always difficult and very disappointing,” Smith said. “The closer you think you are, the more it hurts. There will be no head hanging around here. Our motivation and desire to be the best burns more with every disappointment this organization experiences.”

Players reiterated their heartfelt belief this was the best Chargers team they had been on.

“I felt like that from the bottom of my heart,” Tomlinson said. “I really felt that this was the year.”

Linebacker Stephen Cooper was among the most devastated and forthright Sunday night and again yesterday.

“When you had the opportunity we had, the team we have, we’ve got to take advantage of that,” Cooper said. “… It’s going to hurt for a while. The opportunity was there for us to go win a Super Bowl. We have the guys intact. We have the coaching staff intact. We’re just disappointed to be sitting at home watching somebody else play for the Super Bowl when we thought it was going to be ours.”

Turner expressed to the media in a news conference and then to his team in their year-ending meeting that achieving the ultimate goal is a process and that he believes they are working toward a Super Bowl.

On that, he and his players agree.

“We’ve still got one-seven (Philip Rivers) at quarterback,” Cooper said. “We’ve still got a lot of guys coming back. We know a lot of contracts are up and a lot of guys are going to be restricted, but I think a lot of the same faces will be back here next year. We’re gonna keep pushing for the Super Bowl.”