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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).