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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Chargers Pre-Season Schedule Announced

Source: Chargers.com

The San Diego Chargers’ 2010 preseason schedule features games against some of the NFL’s marquee teams, including the Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys and the reigning Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints.

The San Diego Chargers’ 2010 preseason schedule features games against some of the NFL’s marquee teams, including the Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys and the reigning Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints.

The Chargers will open the preseason at home against the Bears on the weekend of Aug. 13-15. The exact date and time is to be announced.

San Diego’s high-powered offense will be put to the test by a Bears defense and six-time Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Urlacher. The game also will renew the rivalry between quarterbacks Philip Rivers and Jay Cutler and mark Cutler’s first game against the Chargers since being traded to Chicago in 2009. The Chargers roster features several former Bears, including recently signed cornerback Nathan Vasher, and several of San Diego’s coaches, including Defensive Coordinator Ron Rivera, also spent time in the “Windy City” as members of Bears’ coach Lovie Smith’s staff. This will be the Bears’ first visit to San Diego for a preseason game since 1982.

Preseason Week 2 (Aug. 20-22) brings another exciting opponent to San Diego when former Chargers Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips leads Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys into Qualcomm Stadium. These teams met just three and a half months ago at the Cowboys’ new home in Arlington, Texas and the Chargers prevailed in a defensive struggle, 20-17. The Cowboys’ high-powered offense features Romo along with running backs Marion Barber and Felix Jones, and receivers Miles Austin and Roy Williams. Dallas’ roster also lists one of the league’s top outside linebackers in NFL sack-leader DeMarcus Ware. This will mark the second time in three years that the Cowboys will play a preseason game in San Diego. The Chargers beat Dallas, 31-17, in a preseason game in San Diego in 2008.

Again, the exact day and time of the game will be announced at a later date.

The Chargers are on the road in Preseason Week 3 when they are featured in a nationally-televised game on CBS against the reigning Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints. It’s a special Friday night telecast on Aug. 27 with kickoff set for 5:00 p.m. PDT. These two teams are extremely familiar with one-another as the Saints are led by former Chargers quarterback Drew Brees and running back Reggie Bush, an alum of Helix High School (La Mesa, Calif.) and the University of Southern California. Saints Head Coach Sean Payton also has San Diego ties, having started his coaching career at San Diego State in 1988.

It is extremely rare for these two teams to meet in the preseason. In fact it will be the first time it’s happened since 1985. The Chargers and Saints had a memorable regular-season meeting in 2008, facing off in an NFL International Series Game in London, a game that wasn’t decided until late in the fourth quarter with the Saints barely prevailing, 37-32. Rivers and Brees posted nearly identical numbers in that game with Rivers passing for 341 yards and three touchdowns, while Brees threw for 339 yards and three scores of his own.

The Chargers will conclude the NFL Preseason slate against one of their oldest preseason rivals, traveling to San Francisco to meet the 49ers at Candlestick Park the weekend of Sept. 2-5. The Chargers and 49ers have met every year in the preseason since 1987 and a total of 37 times dating back to 1968. The Chargers hold a slight 19-18 edge in the series. The 49ers are one of the NFL’s up-and-coming teams, led by Head Coach and Hall of Fame linebacker Mike Singletary and quarterback Alex Smith, a former Heisman Trophy finalist and prep teammate of Bush’s at La Mesa’s Helix High.

Exact dates and kickoff times for the Chargers preseason games against Chicago, Dallas and San Francisco will be announced in the coming weeks.

Chargers season tickets for the 2010 season are on sale. They can be purchased by calling 877-CHARGERS, visiting www.chargers.com or stopping by the Chargers’ ticket office at Gate C at Qualcomm Stadium, open Monday through Friday from 8-5 pm.

2010 Offseason workouts begin

By: Kevin Acee

Almost two dozen players have been around the Chargers’ facility on and off for the past few weeks, working their way into shape and hanging out after a couple of months away.

Still, what began this week — the organized offseason conditioning sessions that commenced Monday and continue in earnest beginning next week — is an actual start of something more.

“It’s the kickoff of the new year,” quarterback Philip Rivers said.

“That playoff game, the way it ended, will be with us the whole summer. But you turn the page. It’s the start of the 2010 season.”

Almost 30 players, mostly those who just completed their first or second season and some rehabilitating injury, reported to the voluntary workouts Monday. Veterans are asked to be at Chargers Park on Tuesday.

It is not expected that the Chargers’ high-profile restricted free agents will be at these workouts. Darren Sproles has been working out already, but the other players with the first-and-third tender (Malcom Floyd, Vincent Jackson, Marcus McNeill and Shawne Merriman) could decide to skip some or all of the offseason activities while not under contract.

The Chargers will not be the only team whose restricted free agents stay away from offseason workouts, and they figure to be understanding of that aspect of business until training camp.

“We’d like for all our players to be here,” General Manager A.J. Smith said. “If they’re not, that’s entirely up to them and their agents what path they want to go down.”

The coaches would like the players to be part of the team’s conditioning regimen and voluntary coaching sessions before the mandatory minicamp in late May. But head coach Norv Turner saw a bright spot considering the type of players in question.

“These guys have never had an issue of not being in shape or physically prepared,” Turner said.

For those who will be around the next few months, the Chargers have pushed back the bulk of their offseason work.

Instead of a full-squad minicamp the week after the April 22-24 draft, the Chargers will hold what Turner is calling a “rookie orientation” May 7 and 8. The mandatory full-squad minicamp will be May 26-28, about three weeks later than usual.

Neither will be open to the public.

With so many young players and players coming back from injury (the Chargers used 62 players last season), Turner likes the idea of having at least six weeks from the time the Chargers begin conditioning to the first football drill. That will give a few players who were injured more time to fully recover.

A later date for minicamp could also allow time for contractual issues with the restricted free agents to be sorted out.

And there will be some key new players, including a new No. 1 running back, a new starting cornerback and possibly other young players fighting for starting spots or significant playing time.

Said Turner: “I thought this was the best way to keep the most people involved.”

Monday, March 29, 2010

Vasher signs 2-year deal

Source: ESPN

Cornerback Nathan Vasher has signed a two-year deal to join the San Diego Chargers' secondary,the team announced Monday.

Vasher, who has played his entire six-year career with the Chicago Bears, will sign for $4.5 millionover two seasons, a league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

"In Nathan Vasher, we're adding a proven NFL player with experience in the league," said general manager A.J. Smith. "Having played in Chicago under Chargers defensive coordinator Ron Rivera [2004-06] and secondary coach Steve Wilks [2006-08] is an added bonus."

Vasher played in 15 games last season for the Bears, with one interception. He has 19 career picks in 73 career games. He made the NFC Pro Bowl team in 2005, when he had eight interceptions.

Vasher, 28, played collegiately at Texas, where he was a teammate of Quentin Jammer, who also plays cornerback for the Chargers.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Little Rivers is turning heads


Little Steve Rivers is huge: Stephen Rivers, the younger brother of former N.C. State and Pro Bowl quarterback Philip Rivers, is turning a lot of heads at Athens (Ala.) High.

The junior quarterback is 6 feet 7 and 210 pounds and threw for 2,100 yards last season on a 7-4 team. He has written offers from UCLA, Arizona State, Stanford, Tennessee, Mississippi State, South Alabama and N.C. State.

On a related note, Stephen visited older brother Philip recently during spring break. They drove up together to visit the UCLA Campus.

"At this stage in their development, there is no comparison between Steve and Philip as quarterbacks. Stephen is way ahead," Athens coach Allen Creasy said. "Stephen has been our quarterback for two years. Phillip was a linebacker as a sophomore. Stephen is bigger and faster.

"And a big thing is that when Philip was here, we'd throw maybe 10 times a game. We'll throw it 25-30 times a game now. Stephen is ahead in reading defenses, and he can throw it and hit a postage stamp."

Steve Rivers, the boys' dad and former Raleigh Wakefield High coach, is an assistant coach at Athens High and coaches the quarterbacks. He also brings in a certain star quarterback on occasion, too.

"You don't know how Stephen is going to develop. Philip certainly got a lot better, but Stephen is really an outstanding prospect," Creasy said.

RB Toby Gerhart to visit Chargers

Source: NFL Post

Stanford running back Toby Gerhart is scheduled to visit the San Diego Chargers on Thursday, according to an NFL source with knowledge of the situation.

Gerhart ran the 40-yard dash in 4.55 seconds at the NFL scouting combine, registered a 38-inch vertical leap, scored the highest Wonderlic score among the running backs with a 30 and bench pressed 225 pounds 22 times.

Gerhart has been mentioned as a fullback candidate, but he envisions himself playing running back in the NFL.

"I see myself as a running back at the next level," Gerhart said ."If (fullback) is asked of me I'll do it. The team's above all else. But I firmly believe that I have the skill set to play running back at the next level."

Vasher headed to San Diego

Source: Chicigobreakigsports.com

Former Pro Bowl cornerback Nathan Vasher is close to signing a contract with the San Diego Chargers, according to a source close to the player. The Bears released Vasher 10 days ago after general manager Jerry Angelo said at the combine that the team would take him to training camp.

In San Diego, Vasher will be able to reunite with former Bears defensive coordinator Ron Rivera. He went to the Pro Bowl in 2005 after his second season with the Bears playing under Rivera.

There are more familiar faces with the Chargers. Their secondary coach is Steve Wilks, who previously was on Lovie Smith's staff, along with defensive line coach Don Johnson. Vasher will find former teammates Alfonso Boone and Ian Scott on the defensive line there.

The Chargers are in need of depth at cornerback after trading Antonio Cromartie to the New York Jets. The Bears released Vasher after signing free agent Tim Jennings.

Both Brown, who the Bears are seeking to trade, and Vasher were fourth-round draft picks by Angelo. At the time, Angelo had routine success finding starters in the middle rounds of the draft. But injuries derailed Vasher's career with the Bears, starting with a torn groin muscle in 2007 just months after he had signed a $28 million, five-year extension. Later, he needed wrist surgery during the middle of the 2008 season. The injuries limited him to 11 starts over the last three seasons, a period in which he earned just more than $18 million in his new contract.

Vasher was considered a solid teammate and he never aired public grievances about losing his starting job to Zack Bowman. However, the Bears couldn't keep him as a backup this season with a base salary of $2.95 million. Releasing him when they did, as opposed to taking him to camp as Angelo originally suggested, provided him with a better opportunity to find a job. It looks like he's close to making that happen.

Chargers Team Report 3-27-10


By: Scott Yoffe at Chargers.com

Classy move:
Chargers President Dean Spanos recently surprised every member of the Chargers’ staff with a customized “Game Ball” from the team’s AFC West clinching win over Cincinnati on Dec. 20. The ball marks a memorable day for all as Nate Kaeding kicked a 52-yard field goal to win the game, 27-24, and moments later Oakland upset Denver at Invesco Field to officially crown the Bolts as AFC West champs for the fourth-consecutive season and fifth in the last six years.


Classy move II: The locker in the south-east corner of the team’s locker room at Chargers Park has been occupied by a future Hall of Fame running back. Before the team’s equipment staff could assign the locker to a newcomer, Quentin Jammer texted his good friend, LaDainian Tomlinson, to ask his approval to move into his former locker. Tomlinson responded immediately with a message that read: “I couldn’t think of anyone better.” Tomlinson and Jammer, the team’s first-round choices in 2001 and ’02, respectively, are close friends. Both were selected with the fifth-overall choice in the draft; both are Texas natives and even played in the same high school all-star game.

Tying the knot: A couple of Charger offensive linemen recently said “I do.” Both center Scott Mruczkowski and tackle Corey Clark got married on Feb. 20. Mruczkowski married his longtime girlfriend, Kate, in Costa Rica, while Clark wed the former Darla Donaldson in Riviera Maya, Mexico. Several Chargers were in Costa Rica for the Mruczkowski wedding, including center Nick Hardwick, guard Kris Dielman and safety Steve Gregory. Donaldson is from Temecula, Calif., but she and Clark met while attending school at Texas A&M.

Center ice: Hardwick and Dielman were in the stands at the March 21 hockey game between the Anaheim Ducks and the Colorado Avalanche. Turns out that Hardwick played youth hockey with Colorado defenseman John-Michael Liles while they were growing up in Indianapolis. A former goalie and right wing, Hardwick said the team was a traveling squad that played games throughout the United States and Canada. The Ducks ended up winning the game, 5-2.

Pros vs. Joes: Antonio Gates recently took part in a filming of the Spike TV show Pros vs. Joes. It’s a show where amateur athletes do battle against professionals in a chosen sport. For this episode, Gates, Terrell Owens and Donovan McNabb, all former college basketball players, took on three former NBA stars. Gates of course played basketball at Kent State, while Owens played football and basketball at Tennessee-Chattanooga and McNabb was a two-sport star at Syracuse. With the NCAA Tournament in full swing, it’s worth noting that Gates took KSU to the “Elite 8” in 2002, Owens’ UTC squad made the tourney in ’95 and McNabb was a reserve on SU’s 1995-96 team that lost to Kentucky in the National Championship game.

On the recruiting trail: Philip Rivers’ younger brother, Stephen, a senior-to-be quarterback at Athens (Ala.) High School, is one of the hottest quarterback prospects in the nation. Already drawing interest from schools like Tennessee, UCLA, Mississippi State and Stanford, Stephen was recently in San Diego to visit his brother during his Spring break. While he was here, the Rivers boys drove up to Los Angeles and made an “unofficial” visit to the Westwood campus since Stephen had never been to UCLA. Some Chargers fans may not remember, but Bruins coach Rick Neuheisel actually played quarterback for the Bolts in three games as a “Re-Charger” replacement player during the 1987 strike-shortened season.

Gone but not forgotten: Rivers is using the Chargers’ 17-14 loss to the Jets in the Divisional Playoffs as his motivation for this season. He is driving around with a decal of the final score from that game on the rear windshield of his truck.

Tolbert re-signs: Exclusive rights free agent fullback Mike Tolbert signed his one-year tender on Thursday, March 25. Tolbert is in his third season in San Diego out of Coastal Carolina.

Staff honors: Director of Community Relations Kimberley Layton was honored recently for her work with youth football. On March 19, she was presented with the Contribution to Amateur Football Award from the Walter J. Zable/San Diego Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame. She joins Equipment Manager Bob Wick, who received the Whitey Zimmerman Memorial Award as Equipment Manager of the Year at the recently-concluded equipment manager’s meetings in Dallas, and the athletic training staff of James Collins, Damon Mitchell and Will Rogers was named the 2009 NFL Athletic Training Staff of the Year by the Professional Athletic Trainers Society (PFATS).

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Chargers offseason workouts begin Monday

Source: Chargers.com

The Chargers’ 2010 season doesn’t officially kickoff for another six months, but the team’s 12-week offseason strength and conditioning program begins Monday.

Player participation is voluntary, but since head coach Norv Turner arrived in San Diego in 2007, player attendance at the team’s offseason workouts has been near perfect.

“Everybody here knows the impact our offseason program has on the regular season,” Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said. “Guys know and appreciate the time, effort and expertise our strength coaches put into the program.”

The importance of strength and conditioning for a professional athlete cannot be overstated, especially in the NFL. Among professional athletes, NFL players arguably endure the most strenuous and physically-demanding season. The ability to perform at the highest level for an entire season typically requires staying in top shape year-round.

The Chargers’ 2009 season ended a little more than two months ago and despite the need for down time, Rivers and several of his teammates have been at Chargers Park almost every day since.

“As a team, we understand the necessity of being here and getting it done,” Rivers said. “Young players, especially second and third-year guys, can really excel in different areas being around veterans this time of year.”

Jeff Hurd is the team’s head strength and conditioning coach, and along with his assistant, Vernon Stephens, oversees the players’ workout regimen throughout the year.

“There really is no offseason anymore,” Hurd said. “Everything, including the football activities, start earlier than they used to.”

Hurd has been spotting NFL players in the weight room for 15 years and remembers when training camp was a team’s one-stop shop for getting players in shape while simultaneously getting ready for the football season.

Most offseason programs span from March to June and are the norm in today’s NFL. Gone are the days when teams use training camp to whip their players into shape before a grueling four-to-five month season.

“In the past, training camp was used as the time to get players in shape,” Hurd said. “Now, training camp is the time to strategize and really get the football team fine-tuned. The time leading up to camp is when guys need to get in shape.”

In today’s NFL, a team will start and break training camp in a month. Twenty years ago, training camp lasted six or seven weeks. As a result, teams now use the offseason months to get a head start on conditioning and keep players as healthy as possible before the regular season begins.

Weight-lifting and running are the building blocks. Included in the Chargers’ offseason program is Mini Camp and 12 days of non-contact, on-field drills and exercises known league-wide as organized team activities (OTAs). Per NFL policy, teams are allowed 12 days of organized team activities.

With the NFL calendar as long as it is—preseason, regular season and potentially postseason games, players do not have the luxury of getting completely out of shape. And it’s unlikely they will, given the short time between the end of the season and the start of the offseason program.

“You can’t start exactly where you left off,” Hurd said when asked about the Chargers’ momentum during their 11-game win streak. “But it doesn’t take nearly as long to get a guy in shape because he’s not totally out of shape.”

An easy transition isn’t the only goal behind offseason workouts. Job security can serve as another motivating factor for players to stay in shape. Third-year linebacker Antwan Applewhite knows the importance of staying ready to compete, even during the offseason.

“If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready,” said Applewhite, a former undrafted free agent from San Diego State.

Applewhite missed 15 games in 2009 after tearing his hamstring in Week 1 against Oakland, but remains optimistic about reclaiming a roster spot in the upcoming year.

Hurd has been around football long enough to know how much a young player like Applewhite can benefit from participating in the team’s offseason strength and conditioning program.

“Injuries are a part of football,” Hurd said. “You can be in great shape and still get hurt, but if you’re in good shape, your recovery time is reduced. The bottom line is to try to get them as best prepared physically before they take on the football activities.”

“If you’re not in shape you fall behind,” he continued. “Next thing you know, if you fall behind, you’re out of a job because somebody is going to perform better than you, sooner than you do.”

Eager to make his mark with the Chargers, Applewhite is determined to not let that be his story.

“I’m here every day and will continue to be until somebody says otherwise,” Applewhite said. “I have nothing to lose and everything to gain by taking part in our offseason program. Besides, there’s no better place to work out than San Diego.”

Like Rivers, Applewhite calls the Chargers training facility his second home during the offseason months. So what makes a player want to be at work every day during the offseason when he doesn’t necessarily have to be?

“Being here together gets us ready to go out and have a great year,” Rivers said.

The team camaraderie involved in the Chargers’ offseason program is easy to see and speaks volumes about the strong leadership presence in the locker room.

“A motivated person can get in shape on their own, but anytime you go through something this tough as a team, it has a huge impact,” Hurd said.

Hurd admits that next to the football season, this is his favorite time of year. But he knows hitting the gym is a small piece of the puzzle. Teams can be in great shape physically and still lose football games. Teams also can battle through injuries, like the Chargers, who had success despite 10 players on Reserve-Injured, including three starters.

“There’s nothing like winning football games.” Hurd said. “An offseason program exists because there’s a football team, but lifting weights and running aren’t the only reasons for success during the regular season. It’s a combination of a lot of things. Norv has his finger on the pulse of everything. The practice schedule, the trainers’ efforts, time off…all those things play a role and fit together.”

Monday, March 22, 2010

Chargers recieve 5th round draft pick

The Chargers on Monday received an additional 2010 draft pick as part of the NFL’s compensatory draft pick system.

San Diego now has the 168th pick (fifth round) as compensation for free agents lost in the 2009 offseason. The Chargers lost defensive lineman Igor Olshanksy and center Mike Goff while signing linebacker Kevin Burnett.

Compensatory free agent compensation is determined by an NFL formula that considers playing time, salary and postseason honors. A team losing more or better players than it acquires is eligible. The picks can’t be traded.

In all, 19 teams were awarded 32 compensatory picks in the upcoming April draft. The Patriots received four picks — the maximum allowed. One willl come in the sixth round and three in the seventh.

The Chargers also released Demetrius Byrd. They drafted the LSU wide receiver in the seventh round in 2009 after he suffered major injuries in a car crash. He didn’t play during the 2009 season.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Whitehurst to Seahawks; Chargers get great deal!

Seahawks acquired QB Charlie Whitehurst from the Chargers in exchange for a 2010 swap of second-round picks and a third-round pick in 2011.

The move will pay off for Seattle if Whitehurst becomes Matt Hasselbeck's eventual successor, but the Bolts got quite an awesome deal! They move up 20 spots in round two and get a premium 2011 pick for a player with two pass attempts in four seasons, who couldn't beat out Billy Volek. Whitehurst, 27, posted an underwhelming 49:46 TD-to-INT ratio and 59.7 completion rate as a four-year starter at Clemson in the early- to mid-2000s. He has ideal size (6'4/227), good tools and athleticism, and outplayed Jay Cutler at the 2006 Senior Bowl. Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider have been watching a lot of old tape.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Chargers Team Report 3-16-10

Source: USA Today

The commotion from the start of free agency is in full bloom, and, as expected, the Chargers are in full retreat.

Maybe that’s a bit of a stretch but know this: the Chargers seldom make a big splash in the free-agency pool.

“We are always players in the free agency market,” Chargers general manager A. J Smith said. “We’re just not big players for the big-money guys.”

There was a time not that long ago the Chargers would chase and acquire the likes of defensive end Marcus Wiley and wide receiver David Boston. But since Smith has come aboard — he is entering his seventh season as the general manager — the emphasis has been building through the draft.

Although after the first wave of free agents sign, Smith has been known to enter the market on his terms. His acquisitions usually don’t result in bold headlines; he’s looking more for solid football players than making news for a grand signing.

“We let the dust settle a little bit,” said Smith, whose only key free-agent pickup last year was inside linebacker Kevin Burnett. “We always look for players that we think can help us. We’re going to be active. I don’t know how quickly someone will come in here, but we’re going to be looking for some help depending on what is available.”

It’s not as if the Chargers don’t have needs, despite coming off their fourth straight AFC West title. It’s just that Smith doesn’t want to blow up the roster’s salary structure — and possibly cause more problems in the locker room — by acquiring a big-name player.

Still, it’s unlikely the Chargers can fix their shortcomings at defensive tackle, running back, cornerback and right tackle just through the draft.

But a peak at Smith’s handiwork through free agency reveals a man trying to get the most bang for his bucks instead of someone looking to be part of the lead story on “Sports Center”.

Since 2003, Smith has signed linebacker Randall Godfrey, guard Mike Goff, fullback Lorenzo Neal, tight end Kris Wilson and last year’s plum, Burnett.

That lack of interest in free agents often gets Chargers fans grumbling. But Smith listens to his brain and not the boosters’ emotions.

“People say a lot of things, but we make decisions in the best interest of our football team,” Smith said. “We’re going to try and get the best football players we can; the best on and off the field.”

The Chargers’ best chance to fill their void at running back appears to be through the draft. It’s clear that the early free-agent running backs haven’t done much to raise the Chargers’ interest.

“One thing is obvious, and even I won’t dance around it: We’re in the running back business,” Smith said. “L.T. is gone. Michael Bennett is gone and (Darren) Sproles has been tendered, but nothing has been finalized. You could have three new running backs here, at least two. We’ll have some new running backs in here. How we acquire them remains uncertain.”

Although with some certainty, look at it to be via the draft.

Smith is fine with leaving the big-dollar signings to others.

NOTES, QUOTES

—DT Jamal Williams figures to be a load when the Chargers face him twice next season, after he signed with the AFC West rival Broncos. “(It’s) always a good incentive to have the chance to have a little friendly competition with your former teammates,” said Jim Steiner, Williams’ agent. “But that was not a driving force in the deal.”

—RB Marcus Mason, the newest Charger, had 127 yards on 32 carries for the Redskins last year before he was released. “We’ve followed his progress through his young career,” general manager A.J. Smith said, “and when he came available, we decided to give him an opportunity to earn a spot with the Chargers.”

—Special-teams ace Kassim Osgood could finally get his long-awaited chance to contribute as a wide receiver after the free agent signed with Jacksonville. “I’m pleased to announce J’ville is in the house!” Osgood said via Twitter. “The Black and Teal Man of Steel is for real!”

—CB Antonio Cromartie is hopeful a fresh start will return him to his Pro Bowl-caliber of play. Cromartie was traded to the Jets for a third-round pick in 2011, which could become a second-rounder based on Cromartie’s playing time. “I think this is going to work out for me and the Jets’ organization,” Cromartie said. “I’m not going to let them down in any way.”

—In one offseason. Smith has released ex-GM Bobby Beathard’s last remaining pick in Williams and the late John Butler’s best pick in LaDainian Tomlinson.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “This is a unique, different year that all teams are working their way through. It’s just unchartered waters.” — GM A.J. Smith on building a squad heading into an uncapped season.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

OFFSEASON STRATEGY

The Chargers are believed to be zeroing in defensive tackles Jared Odrick (Penn State) and Terrence Cody (Alabama). UCLA’s Brian Price is also a possibility, but his size isn’t as keen as what Odrick and Cody can offer.

If the Chargers surprise some and go with a running back with their 28th overall pick, Stanford’s Toby Gerhard or Fresno State’s Ryan Mathews should be in the mix.

TEAM NEEDS

1. Running back: The Chargers move the ball through the air. But someone has to be behind Philip Rivers and currently there’s not much there. The removal of LaDainian Tomlinson and Michael Bennett from the roster means this need leaps off the Chargers’ offseason page. The Chargers have the dynamic Darren Sproles, but he’s more of a situational back than one to be counted on for yards between the tackles.

2. Defensive tackle: The Chargers were late finding a replacement for Jamal Williams, a three-time Pro Bowler who has been breaking down in recent seasons. The Chargers now need to move fast, unless they want to spend another season plugging the defense’s biggest hole in the middle. Ryon (CQ) Bingham, Williams’ backup, should return. But he doesn’t have the girth and mass that Williams displayed.

3. Cornerback: The Chargers once bragged this was among the team’s deepest position. But they grew tired of babysitting the talented but immature Antonio Cromartie and shipped the Pro Bowler to the Jets. There are some bodies behind Cromartie, but can any of them separate themselves to prove they are up to taking Cromartie’s spot?

MEDICAL WATCH: No updates.

FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.

TRANSITION PLAYER: None.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

—C Dennis Norman is at a spot where the team has depth and likely won’t come back.

—OL Jon Runyan is going to retire and run for Congress.

—DT Ian Scott doesn’t have the upside the Chargers are looking for and will likely depart.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)

—*C Eric Ghiaciuc (not tendered as RFA) won’t have a place with the number of linemen — when healthy — ahead of him.

—*OLB Marques Harris (not tendered as RFA) is a decent pass rusher but the Chargers will likely see him go where he would get more of a chance to contribute.

—*LB Dontarrious Thomas (not tendered as RFA) seldom saw the field when arriving late last year and appears to be a goner.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (*indicates restricted because of uncapped year)

—RT Jeromey Clary (tendered at $1.684M with second-round pick as compensation) will return but will be pushed by Brandyn Dombrowski for a starting job.

—*ILB Tim Dobbins (tendered at $1.176M with fifth-round pick as compensation) is a solid backup after getting lapped by Brandon Siler; should return.

—*WR Malcom Floyd (tendered at $3.168M with first- and third-round picks as compensation) could likely get more passes thrown his way elsewhere, but he likes San Diego and will likely take a little less to remain here.

—*WR Vincent Jackson (tendered at $3.268M with first- and third-round picks as compensation) is the team’s top receiver and will be brought back — unless the team has grown tired of his immaturity; that’s doubtful after two 1,000-yard seasons.

—*DL Travis Johnson (tendered at $1.226M with first-round pick as compensation) will probably have to settle for less money, but the former first-round pick of the Texans might have found a home in San Diego.

—*LT Marcus McNeill (tendered at $3.168M with first- and third-round picks as compensation) is a stud at left tackle and among the team’s biggest offseason priorities.

—*OLB Shawne Merriman (tendered at $3.168M with first- and third-round picks as compensation) will return, possibly, if willing to swallow his pride and lower his price tag. A motivated Merriman playing on a one-year deal could be attractive to the Chargers.

—*RB Darren Sproles (tendered at $7.283M with first- and third-round picks as compensation) was tendered after it was first thought the Chargers would let him go.

—*QB Charlie Whitehurst (tendered at $1.176M with third-round pick as compensation) is learning a ton at the No. 3 spot, so he finally absorbs one more year of education and then moves on.

EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS

—OLB Antwan Applewhite (tendered at $470,000) can deliver a burst off the ball and is keen on special teams. He should be brought back.

—FB Mike Tolbert (tendered at $470,000) continues to improve and the Chargers could give him more carries in the base offense, depending on the situation at running back.

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED

—DT Alfonso Boone: UFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.

—*DT Antonio Garay: Not tendered as RFA; terms unknown.

—TE Kris Wilson: UFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED

—RB Marcus Mason (waivers Redskins).

—CB Donald Strickland: UFA Jets; 2 yrs, terms unknown.

PLAYERS LOST

—RB Michael Bennett (released).

—CB Antonio Cromartie (traded Jets).

—TE Brandon Manumaleuna: UFA Bears; $15M/5 yrs, $$2M SB/$3M RB.

—WR Kassim Osgood: UFA Jaguars; $6.675M/3 yrs, $2.975M guaranteed.

—RB LaDainian Tomlinson (released; signed with Jets).

—NT Jamal Williams (released).

Executive Vice President Steeg leaves Chargers

Source: Chargers.com

San Diego Chargers Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer Jim Steeg announced today he is leaving the organization effective March 31 to pursue “further challenges.”

“I have decided that there are further challenges that I would like the opportunity to pursue during my professional career,” Steeg said. “Given my goals and aspirations, I did not think it was fair to Dean (Spanos) and the organization to begin the process of pursuing other career options while in my current position.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my five-plus seasons with the Chargers and am very proud of the accomplishments of the organization during this time. I will always be appreciative of Dean and the Spanos family for the opportunity I was given in 2004 and will continue to be available to help in any way I can.”

During Steeg’s tenure with the team, season-seat sales increased from 35,000 to 56,000 and the Chargers sold out 48 straight regular-season and postseason games. He played a key role in relocating the team’s training camp to Chargers Park, creating new radio and television partnerships, and the expansion of the team’s sponsorship and stadium revenues. His experience also was vital to the team’s American Bowl trip to London in 2008 as well as the organization’s successful 50th Anniversary promotion in ’09, including the selection of the 50 Greatest Chargers. Also in 2007, the Chargers were named the NFL’s most fan-friendly franchise for stadium parking and ambiance by FansVoice.com.

“I’m disappointed to see him go,” said Chargers President Dean Spanos. “Jim provided solid leadership and many bright, new ideas for our front office. I’m extremely grateful for his dedication and loyalty to the Chargers and our family.”

Spanos said that Steeg’s duties would be divided among the team’s front office leadership with the goal of “continuing the fine work that Jim did to improve the fan experience at our games.”

Prior to joining the Chargers, Steeg spent 26 years in charge of special events for the National Football League. He grew the Super Bowl from a championship football game to a week-long extravaganza featuring signature events, including The NFL Experience. He was the driving force behind Super Bowl charitable events that raised more than $50 million for host communities and impacted thousands of children. Steeg also launched and championed the Super Bowl Minority and Women-Owned Emerging Business Program in the early 1990s, mandating that whenever possible, the league and its various vendors and corporate clients work with local minority and women-owned businesses.

Beyond his Super Bowl duties, Steeg organized the NFL Draft, American Bowl Games in Berlin and Barcelona, and NFL television events. He also planned and executed the closing of Times Square and the Mall in Washington D.C., for NFL Kickoff Celebrations in 2002 and ’03. He chaired the NFL’s league-wide 75th Anniversary celebration in 1994 and Pro Football’s Greatest Reunion in 2000. He also initiated the return of Throwback Uniforms in 1994 and was among the inaugural class inducted into the Special Events Hall of Fame in 2002.

Monday, March 15, 2010

LT signs with the J-E-T-S, Lame - Lame - Lame

Ladainian Tomlinson signed a 2-year deal with the team that kicked the Chargers out of the Playoffs, the New York Jets. Considering that Marty's son is there and the fact he will probably get allot more carries with the Jets rather than behind Adrian Peterson, the signing comes as no suprise. The Chargers don't play the Jets this year, but isn't another showdown between the two teams in this upcoming Playoffs fun to think about?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Chargers sign CB Strickland

Source: Chargers.com

The Chargers announced late Friday afternoon that they’d reached an agreement on a two-year contract with free agent cornerback Donald Strickland, formerly of the New York Jets.

The 5-10, 185-pound Strickland played in 11 games with two starts for the Jets in 2009, including a reserve role in New York’s Divisional Playoff win in San Diego. He finished the year with 25 tackles, two sacks, four passes defensed and three tackles for loss. He also contributed nine tackles on special teams. Strickland saw action off the bench in the Chargers’ playoff game against the Jets, collecting three tackles and a pass defensed.

Strickland will be 29 years old at the start of the 2010 season. He came to the NFL in 2003 as a third-round pick of the Indianapolis Colts and spent two and a half seasons in Indianapolis before being waived midway through the 2005 season. He would later sign with Philadelphia for the remainder of the ’05 season before spending the 2006-08 seasons in San Francisco.

His regular-season career totals include 58 games played, 24 starts, 185 tackles, two sacks, two interceptions, 20 passes defensed and 38 tackles on special teams. Strickland has also played in five career postseason games, racking up 21 tackles and seven passes defensed.

A native of San Francisco, Strickland prepped at Archbishop Riordan High School before an All-Big-12 career at the University of Colorado. His uncle, Raymond Bell, played at UCLA and his cousin, Herb Ward, played at Southern California and in the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys. Strickland’s father, Donald, is a retired photographer for the NBC affiliate, KNTV-11 in the Bay Area.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Chargers acquire RB Marcus Mason

Source: Twiitter

The Chargers added depth to their offensive backfield on Monday, claiming running back Marcus Mason off waivers from the Washington Redskins.

The 5-9, 215-pound former All-America running back from Youngstown State spent the better part of his first two NFL seasons on the practice squads of the Redskins and Baltimore Ravens before getting an opportunity to play last season for the Redskins. In nine games in '09, Mason averaged just under 4.0 yards per carry, toting the ball 32 times for 127 yards. He will attempt to earn a roster spot on a team in San Diego that averaged just 3.3 yards per carry last season.

"We've followed his progress through his young career," said General Manager A.J. Smith, "and when he came available, we decided to give him an opportunity to earn a spot with the Chargers."

The 25-year-old Mason played two collegiate seasons at YSU after transferring from the University of Illinois. He averaged an impressive 5.7 yards per carry in two seasons for the Penguins, racking up 2,739 yards and 31 touchdowns on 478 carries. He set a school record with 1,847 yards as a senior, en route to being named Offensive Player of the Year for the Gateway Conference.

The Redskins signed Mason as a free agent in 2007. He spent one week on their active roster, though he did not appear in a game, and the rest of the season on Washington's practice squad. In 2008, Washington released Mason following training camp and the preseason in which he led the NFL in rushing with 371 yards on 66 carries, a 4.8-yard average. That year Mason would spend eight weeks on Baltimore's practice squad and six more weeks on the New York Jets' active roster, but he did not appear in any games for the Jets. The Redskins re-acquired Mason off waivers from the Jets in April, 2009.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Is Ryan Mathews the next RB for the Chargers?

By: Todd Kaufmann

"With the 28th pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the San Diego Chargers select Ryan Mathews out of Fresno State."

Those are words that a lot of people are wondering if they're going to hear, especially Mathews himself. There's no question that San Diego would be a great place for Ryan to play, and it's not far from the central California valley where he grew up. But where does Ryan want to go?

There are those that think he could be off the board long before the Chargers even get to pick. According to the Houston Chronicle , the Texans have already discussed the drafting Mathews with the 20th pick, making Ryan the second Bulldog to be taken in draft history by Houston. The first was David Carr as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 NFL draft. Unfortunately for Carr, his tenure in Houston didn't go as well as he would have liked.

If the Texas do pass on Mathews and he's still on the board, would the Chargers even consider taking him? And if so, is there already pressure to replace the recently departed LaDainian Tomlinson?

When asked by ESPN.com, Mathews admitted that he took notice when the Chargers cut Tomlinson and said he would love to get the opportunity to play in San Diego.

“I’m a homegrown California guy, it would be great,” Mathews told Bill Williamson of ESPN.com . “They have an opening there. I hope it works out and I can go there.”

There's no question that Ryan can come in and be a first year starter anywhere he's drafted: he's that good of a running back. Not only did he lead the nation in rushing in high school but he also led the nation in rushing as a junior at Fresno State.

Mathews missed most of the game against Nevada, and didn't play against Louisiana Tech after suffering a concussion against the Wolf Pack. Though he missed those games, Mathews still finished second in the nation in rushing (1,808), losing out to Stanford's Toby Gerhardt (1,871). Interestingly enough, Mathews trailed Gerhardt at the end of the season by just 63 yards, not to mention he carried the ball 67 fewer times than the Stanford back.

Even knowing that, however, there are a lot of people who didn't give Mathews his due credit or respect for no other reason than where he played. It didn't matter that he put up a 234-yard, three touchdown performance against Boise State on national television. A Boise State team that was giving up less than 100 yards rushing per game, by the way.

Even after coming back from a concussion and putting up 173 yards and three scores against Illinois, it still wasn't good enough for the critics to say anything good about him.

Entering the draft combine, Mathews started to open a lot of eyes among NFL teams, especially after running a 4.45-40 and benching 225 pounds 19 times.

The question becomes, if Mathews is on the board and still available when the Chargers pick comes up at No. 28, do they take a chance on him or do they wait for the later rounds when they can pick up a guy like Toby Gerhardt?

If I'm San Diego, I think you can not pass on a guy like Ryan Mathews. A guy that can make an immediate impact on your team and can be an every down back in the NFL. He has the speed that L.T. brought to San Diego and the strength to hit the holes and break tackles in the process.

We're just a few weeks away from the draft, and though Mathews is among a list of running backs that San Diego is interested in, he's the best choice they have. Though he doesn't come from a big school like USC, Cal, or Florida, it doesn't mean he can't make a bigger impact than any other running back in the draft.

Most critics said he wouldn't be a first round pick. Now, everyone's wondering if he'll even be on the board midway through the first round.

How quickly things change.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Kris Wilson and Alfonso Boone agree to contracts

SAN DIEGO - The San Diego Chargers have agreed to terms with tight end Kris Wilson and defensive end Alfonso Boone.

Both received two-year contracts. Wilson just completed his second season with the Chargers, catching four passes for 28 yards, with one touchdown. Boone joined the Chargers last year and started four of 13 games played.

Chargers Team Report 3-6-10

Source: USA Today

The Chargers continue to make sweeping changes to their roster by releasing Pro Bowl defensive tackle Jamal Williams.

The longtime heart and soul of the team’s interior defense was let go, joining LaDainian Tomlinson as past featured players hitting the streets.

But unlike Tomlinson, there is a chance Williams could return — but that’s no guarantee.

“This is a difficult time of year and the most difficult part of our job,” general manager A.J. Smith said. “Jamal has been an anchor of our defense for 12 seasons. He’s battled courageously at one of the most punishing positions on the field, and I respect him immensely.”

Williams tore his triceps in last year’s season-opener and landed on IR, wiping out the majority of his season. But it appeared the Chargers were counting on Williams to get healthy and return to shore up a shoddy run defense.

Williams, though, will soon turn 34 and was to earn some $6 million next season, which includes a roster bonus.

That was too rich for the Chargers’ blood, not to mention Williams’ physical state is such that him coming back to play at a Pro Bowl level was doubtful.

While Williams’ release was a bit shocking, the team reversed course with another key player: running back Darren Sproles.

The team, it appeared, was going to let Sproles go after one year of being its franchise player. But while the Chargers didn’t get all that much bang for their $6.6 million they gave Sproles last year, they have decided to seek his return.

Sproles, who also returns kickoffs and punts, was tendered as a restricted free agent with a first- and third-round choice and a $7 million price tag.

That’s awfully rich, but no one is quite sure if it is enough to scare off another team in an uncapped season. It could also signal that the Chargers and Sproles are nearing a long-term deal.

The Chargers did decide to move on without another running back, and that is veteran Michael Bennett.

But it was the news that Williams is leaving and Sproles is staying — for now — which caught many Chargers watchers off-guard.

With Williams gone, the Chargers will be seeking a bigger and better defensive tackle than what their roster shows now. Behind Williams is Ryon Bingham, but he doesn’t have nearly the size of skill sets which led Williams to three Pro Bowl selections.

So in addition to running backs being at the top of Smith’s list, he needs to find a massive defensive tackle that can fit into the Chargers’ 3-4 alignment.

NOTES, QUOTES

—OLB Shawne Merriman has expressed disappointment with being a restricted free agent, a distinction necessitated by the NFL going to an uncapped year next season. “Business is business but some things just aren’t right,” he said.

General manager A.J. Smith just shrugged. “It goes with the territory,” he said. “Everybody has an opinion and voices their opinion and you understand that.”

—DE Luis Castillo underwent shoulder surgery and has completed his rehab.

—DE Jacques Cesaire had procedures to clean up debris in his elbow and knee and can start working out again.

—C Nick Hardwick, who had ankle surgery last season, had a shoulder operation when the season ended. He will be ready for the Chargers’ minicamp sessions.

—The team, which is looking at a downtown site for a new stadium, said it might link the development with a sports arena as well. So far, the issue has not come to a vote, which many consider an uphill battle to get passed.

—TE Antonio Gates had his No. 44 basketball jersey retired at Kent State. “Kent State has done so much for me,” Gates said. “The man I was when I left Kent State is not the person I was when I got to Kent State.”

—The Chargers have had a character issues with many players so maybe that is why their recent trip to the Combine came with plenty of personal interviews. “I think one of the most important things we get from the Combine is what goes on off the field,” said John Spanos, the team’s director of college scouting.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “This was the year we decided we were going to move forward and we are not looking back.” — GM A.J. Smith on releasing future Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

The Chargers are going to try their best to keep some of their top-notch players from vacating. But as always, the focus when it comes to bringing in new players will be the draft.

Although with the numerous shortcoming on the both sides of the ball, this might be the year the Chargers are more active enticing other players to come west.

OFFSEASON STRATEGY

The Chargers, under A.J. Smith, have never been big players in the free-agent market. But might that change this year with so many holes appearing on the Chargers roster?

The release of LaDainian Tomlinson and Jamal Williams underscores just how thin the Chargers are at that position.

But the Chargers do get a break with it being an uncapped year as they can likely bring back OLB Shawne Merriman, WRs Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd and left tackle Marcus McNeill at reasonable prices; all have been allocated first- and third-round tenders.

TEAM NEEDS

1. Running back: The Chargers’ need here might have lessened slightly with the news they will seek to retain Darren Sproles. But with the subtraction of LaDainian Tomlinson and Michael Bennett, the Chargers don’t have a true every down back on the roster.

2. Defensive tackle: With Pro Bowler Jamal Williams being released, there is a huge need here — especially with the Chargers running a 3-4 alignment. Don’t be surprised if the Chargers burn their first draft pick on a space-eating defensive tackle.

3. Right guard: The Chargers have been trying to upgrade this spot for a couple of years but without much luck. They would probably be OK going into the season with Jeromey Clary and Brandyn Dombrowski at this spot, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be looking hard to get better.

MEDICAL WATCH: No updates.

FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.

TRANSITION PLAYER: None.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

—DT Alfonso Boone filled a need last year but the team looks to get younger here.

—C Dennis Norman is at a spot where the team has depth and likely won’t come back.

—WR Kassim Osgood is a three-time Pro Bowler as a special-teamer; he wants to try his luck at receiver and could flee.

—OL Jon Runyan is going to retire and run for Congress.

—DT Ian Scott doesn’t have the upside the Chargers are looking for and will likely depart.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)

—*DT Antonio Garay (not tendered as RFA) was a late-season addition and doesn’t figure in the team’s plans moving forward.

—*C Eric Ghiaciuc (not tendered as RFA) won’t have a place with the number of linemen — when healthy — ahead of him.

—*OLB Marques Harris (not tendered as RFA) is a decent pass rusher but the Chargers will likely see him go where he would get more of a chance to contribute.

—*LB Dontarrious Thomas (not tendered as RFA) seldom saw the field when arriving late last year and appears to be a goner.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (*indicates restricted because of uncapped year)

—RT Jeromey Clary (tendered at $1.684M with second-round pick as compensation) will return but will be pushed by Brandyn Dombrowski for a starting job.

—*ILB Tim Dobbins (tendered at $1.176M with fifth-round pick as compensation) is a solid backup after getting lapped by Brandon Siler; should return.

—*WR Malcom Floyd (tendered at $3.168M with first- and third-round picks as compensation) could likely get more passes thrown his way elsewhere, but he likes San Diego and will likely take a little less to remain here.

—*WR Vincent Jackson (tendered at $3.268M with first- and third-round picks as compensation) is the team’s top receiver and will be brought back — unless the team has grown tired of his immaturity; that’s doubtful after two 1,000-yard seasons.

—*DL Travis Johnson (tendered at $1.226M with first-round pick as compensation) will probably have to settle for less money, but the former first-round pick of the Texans might have found a home in San Diego.

—*LT Marcus McNeill (tendered at $3.168M with first- and third-round picks as compensation) is a stud at left tackle and among the team’s biggest offseason priorities.

—*OLB Shawne Merriman (tendered at $3.168M with first- and third-round picks as compensation) will return, possibly, if willing to swallow his pride and lower his price tag. A motivated Merriman playing on a one-year deal could be attractive to the Chargers.

—*RB Darren Sproles (tendered at $7.283M with first- and third-round picks as compensation) was tendered after it was first thought the Chargers would let him go.

—*QB Charlie Whitehurst (tendered at $1.176M with third-round pick as compensation) is learning a ton at the No. 3 spot, so he finally absorbs one more year of education and then moves on.

EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS

—OLB Antwan Applewhite (tendered at $470,000) can deliver a burst off the ball and is keen on special teams. He should be brought back.

—FB Mike Tolbert (tendered at $470,000) continues to improve and the Chargers could give him more carries in the base offense, depending on the situation at running back.

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED

—TE Kris Wilson: UFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED: None.

PLAYERS LOST

—RB Michael Bennett (released).

—TE Brandon Manumaleuna has agreed to a five-year deal with Chicago, according to multiple reports. Manumaleuna reunites with Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz, who was the Rams’ head coach when Manumaleuna was a quality blocking tight end for St. Louis.

—RB LaDainian Tomlinson (released).

—NT Jamal Williams (released).

Chargers trade Cromartie to Jets

NeW YORK (AP)—It just got a lot tougher to throw against the New York Jets.

A few hours before the NFL’s free agency period began, the Jets improved their secondary in a big way by agreeing in principle with the San Diego Chargers to acquire talented but troubled cornerback Antonio Cromartie on Thursday night.

The Jets confirmed the deal, but didn’t release specifics—although it is believed to be for a draft pick in 2011.

Cromartie was an All-Pro in 2007 and will team with Darrelle Revis in the Jets’ secondary, making them possibly the best cornerback tandem in the NFL. Cromartie replaces Lito Sheppard, who was released earlier in the day after one disappointing season.

It could be a welcome change for Cromartie, who has struggled the last two seasons. He has 15 interceptions in four seasons since being the 19th overall pick out of Florida State in 2006, but the Chargers were dissatisfied with Cromartie’s performance late last season and in the playoffs. General manager A.J. Smith made it clear he would try to trade him.

One of Cromartie’s low moments actually came against his new team in the playoffs in January. Cromartie froze as Jets running back Shonn Greene hit the hole at the start of a 53-yard touchdown run that gave New York a 10-point lead midway through the fourth quarter of a 17-14 win in the AFC divisional round. Cromartie eventually caught up to Greene and gave him a shove well after he’d crossed the goal line—but he had already drawn the ire of fans and apparently the Chargers.

The 25-year-old Cromartie also has had his share of legal troubles. He has dealt with at least five paternity suits; he has fathered seven children by several woman. Cromartie also had a bar patron claim that he hit him in the head with a champagne bottle hours after the team’s victory at Denver last November. San Diego police later said there was not enough evidence to prove the claim.

He was also disciplined by coach Norv Turner for breaking team rules regarding tweeting from the team premises.

Despite the issues both on and off the field, Cromartie gives Jets coach Rex Ryan an athletic player with loads of potential.

In his second season in 2007, Cromartie set the Chargers’ franchise record with an NFL-leading 10 interceptions, and added two more picks in the playoffs as San Diego made it to the AFC championship game. He also was credited earlier in the season with the longest play in NFL history when he returned a missed field goal by Minnesota 109 yards for a touchdown.

He boasted the next season that he wanted to break the NFL record for interceptions with 14, but had just two while playing throughout the year with a hip injury. Cromartie had three interceptions last season.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Jamal Williams and Michael Bennett

Source: SD Tribune

Darren Sproles is staying. Jamal Williams is leaving.

The Chargers changed their mind on Sproles, opting Thursday morning to place a first-and-third tender on the dynamic running back and kick returner.

Williams, a Pro Bowl nose tackle who had been with the Chargers for 12 seasons, was released. He will be 34 next month, would have been owed a $1 million roster bonus and was scheduled to earn $5 million in 2010. He played in only one game last season due to a triceps injury suffered in the season opener.

Also released was veteran running back Michael Bennett, who played sparingly in his year and a half with the Chargers.

Sproles had been notified last week the Chargers would not tender him as a restricted free agent and would allow him to test the market as an unrestricted free agent.

The move guarantees Sproles a salary of $7.283 million if he stays with the Chargers, unless the club can sign him to a long-term deal. He made $6.62 million last season as the Chargers' franchise player and is entitled to a 10 percent raise.

The Chargers' initial thinking in not tendering Sproles was that they couldn't justify paying a kick returner and third-down back that much. They had hoped to continue talking to him about a multiyear contract even as he tested the market.

A source said Sproles was scheduled to visit the Kansas City Chiefs this weekend and also St. Louis, Philadelphia and Washington.

Any team signing him would have to give the Chargers a first-round and third-round pick.

The Chargers also confirmed they placed the maximum tender on four other restricted free agents: linebacker Shawne Merriman, tackle Marcus McNeill and wide receivers Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd. They put a second-round tender on tackle Jeromey Clary, a third-round tender on quarterback Charlie Whitehurst and a fifth-round tender on linebacker Tim Dobbins.

The Chargers have seven unrestricted free agents and the team said Pro Bowl special teams star Kassim Osgood and veteran offensive linemen Jon Runyan and Dennis Norman definitely will not be returning to the club. The other four are tight ends Kris Wilson and Brandon Manumaleuna, and defensive linemen Ian Scott and Alfonso Boone.

Also Thursday, the Chargers announced 10 players have undergone surgery since the season ended Jan. 17, including three who already have completed their recovery: defensive ends Luis Castillo (shoulder) and Jacques Cesaire (elbow, knee), and center Nick Hardwick (shoulder).

The others, and their anticipated recovery time, according to the Chargers: LB Kevin Burnett (neck, 3-5 months), DL Vaughn Martin (ankle, 12 weeks), OL Scott Mruczkowski (elbow, 2-4 weeks), WR Legedu Naanee (foot, 12 weeks), P Mike Scifres (bilateral hernia, 6-12 weeks), S C.J. Spillman (shoulder, 3-4 months), and G Louis Vasquez (knee, 6-8 weeks).

Chargers will keep Sproles

Source: SD Tribune

The Chargers have changed their minds.

The team is placing a first-and-third tender on running back Darren Sproles, sources said Thursday morning.

Sproles had been notified last week the Chargers would not tender him as a restricted free agent and would allow him to test the market as an unrestricted free agent.

The move guarantees Sproles a salary of $7.27 million if he stays with the Chargers, unless the club can sign him to a long-term deal. He made $6.62 million last season as the Chargers' franchise player and is entitled to a 10 percent raise.

The Chargers' initial thinking in not tendering Sproles was that they couldn't justify paying a kick returner and third-down back that much. They had hoped to continue talking to him about a multiyear contract even as he tested the market.

A source said Sproles was scheduled to visit the Kansas City Chiefs this weekend and also St. Louis, Philadelphia and Washington.

It is unlikely he will take those trips now. Any team signing him would have to give the Chargers a first-round and third-round pick.

Earlier Thursday, before the Chargers decided to tender him, Sproles said he was excited about free agency.

“I’m just ready to see who wants me,” Sproles said.

Sproles reiterated several times that his “first choice” was to remain a Charger.

“First, it’s San Diego,” he said. “Then it’s my teammates. The people in the locker room, that’s who I’m comfortable with. They know what I like to do; I know what they like to do.”

Sproles carried 93 times for 343 yards (3.7 average) and caught 45 passes for 497 yards in 2009. He has over the past two-plus seasons shown himself to be among the most dynamic runners in the NFL.

The Chargers clearly see the 5-foot-6, 185-pound Sproles as a kick returner and third-down back.

“It’s always been on my mind — how do other teams want to use me?” he said. “Is it just on third down and returning? Or do some people want to use me more? That’s what I’ve always wondered?”

Sproles and the Chargers had agreed to talk again. But first he was going to find out what other teams were willing to give him — in both playing time and money.

“I’m still thinking I can still be a Charger,” Sproles said. “That’s what I feel … This is where I want to be, so we’ll try to get something worked out. But if not, we’ll see … ”

Monday, March 1, 2010

Chargers determined to keep top free agents

— The Chargers appear determined to keep their remaining four top restricted free agents after allowing running back Darren Sproles to test the market.

According to sources familiar with the Chargers’ intentions, the team is expected to place the first-and-third tender on left tackle Marcus McNeill, linebacker Shawne Merriman and receivers Malcom Floyd and Vincent Jackson.

That is the highest possible tender and would assure the Chargers of receiving significant compensation if one of them signed elsewhere.

Ostensibly, another team would have to give the Chargers first- and third-round draft picks in this year’s draft if they signed one of the four. But the sides could negotiate a lesser deal.

One source cautioned that “things could change.” But several sources said the Chargers are making known their intentions to put the highest tender on those four players, believing that is the only way to keep them from being poached.

Other teams could deem any or all of those four — not to mention eight other restricted free agents — worth parting with draft picks.

But most general managers speaking at the NFL Combine this week indicated they did not anticipate a lot of movement in restricted free agency even though so many top players are restricted and the unrestricted market is considered relatively light.

Floyd, Jackson, McNeill and Merriman were all due to be unrestricted free agents this year but are restricted because of 2010 being uncapped in the final season of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

As a player with five years’ experience, Jackson will receive $3.268 million in 2010 and Floyd $3.168 million. Merriman is entitled to 110 percent of his 2009 salary ($2.972 million), which means he will make $3.269 million.

Sproles became one of the top unrestricted free agents available when the Chargers opted to not tender him because of the $7.3 million price tag that would have been required.

The Chargers hold out hope they can entice Sproles to return with a multiyear contract offer. However, sources said the deep-pocketed Washington Redskins are going to be among those in the bidding for Sproles.

It appears as though one Charger will be on the move.

Trade talks regarding cornerback Antonio Cromartie have progressed at the Combine this week, league sources said. And sources familiar with the teams the Chargers have spoken with said the Detroit Lions are the leading contender to get Cromartie and could acquire him soon in exchange for a mid-round draft pick.