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Chargers prepared for 2010 offseason
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The Chargers made the necessary roster decisions in preparation for the official start of the 2010 offseason which begins at 9 pm PT Thursday.
Among the decisions was the release of 12-year veteran defensive tackle Jamal Williams.
“This is a difficult time of year and the most difficult part of our job,” said General Manager A.J. Smith. “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.”
The team also released veteran running back Michael Bennett, leaving the roster thin at the running back position.
“We have a plan for the offseason,” said Smith. “It’s a long offseason and we’ll have many options. We’re confident we’ll be able to add strong depth at all positions, including running back.”
Key decisions that needed to be made include what to do with the 21 player contracts that are due to expire at 9 pm Thursday. That includes seven Unrestricted free agents (UFA), 12 Restricted free agents (RFA) and two Exclusive Rights free agents (ERFA). Teams must make a contract offer (“tender”) to maintain negotiating rights to their Restricted and Exclusive Rights free agents, and the Chargers “tendered” all except three of the 14 players.
Restricted free agents, including wide receivers Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd, tackle Marcus McNeill, linebacker Shawne Merriman and running back Darren Sproles, may sign an offer sheet with another team. However the Chargers have the right to match the offer or be compensated with draft picks based on the size of the tender. All five of these players were tendered with the maximum tender. If one of those players signs an offer from another team and the Chargers choose to not match the offer, San Diego will receive that team’s first and third-round choices in this year’s draft.
“Our intentions are to have all of our tendered players back,” said Smith. “We feel good about these players and continuity is important to us.”
The Chargers have agreed on a two-year contract with DT Antonio Garay, who would have become a Restricted free agent.
As the term suggests, the Chargers hold exclusive negotiating rights to Exclusive Rights free agents linebacker Antwan Applewhite and fullback Mike Tolbert.
The Chargers hold no negotiating rights to their seven Unrestricted free agents: DE Alfonso Boone, TE Brandon Manumaleuna, C-G Dennis Norman, WR Kassim Osgood, T Jon Runyan, DT Ian Scott and TE Kris Wilson. The seven players are free to sign with any team without compensation to the Chargers. Of the seven, Norman, Osgood and Runyan definitely will not be returning.
The team will be looking at all options to add depth to its roster this offseason. The league’s free agent signing period begins at 9 pm PT. The Chargers, as one of the final eight playoff teams, can sign only one UFA with a first-year salary of $5.807 million or more. The team may sign additional UFAs at that salary range only after losing one at a comparable salary. It may sign an unlimited number of players with a first-year salary of up to $3.862 million. Teams that were in the Final Four (conference championship games) can only sign a UFA after losing a UFA, and they can only sign as many as they lost and only at comparable salaries.
In addition to free agency, the draft will be a major focus. Currently San Diego has the 28th choice in each of the draft’s seven rounds, except for the sixth round. The Chargers traded its sixth-round choice to the Houston Texans for defensive end Travis Johnson, a former first-round choice.
Now that more than six weeks have passed since the team’s last game, the Chargers also have a good feel for the health of their current roster, which will aid them in their future decisions. All of the players requiring surgery this offseason have either had their surgery or surgery is scheduled for the very near future.
“We feel all of our players returning from injury are on schedule and will be ready to participate fully in Training Camp in late July, and likely by Mini Camp in May,” said Smith.
Surgery update Injury Rehab Time (from date of surgery)
LB Kevin Burnett Neck 3-5 months
DE Luis Castillo Shoulder complete
DE Jacques Cesaire Elbow, Knee complete
C Nick Hardwick Shoulder complete
DE Vaughn Martin Ankle 12 weeks
G 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
G Louis Vasquez Knee 6-8 weeks
Below is the contract status for all Chargers as of March 4, including the size of the tender that each RFA was offered. The year indicates the last year of the player’s contract.
Under contract through 2015
Exclusive Rights Free Agents*
LB Antwan Applewhite ($470k)
FB Mike Tolbert ($470k)
Restricted Free Agents**
T Jeromey Clary … second-round tender ($1.684 million)
LB Tim Dobbins … fifth-round tender ($1.176 million)
WR Malcom Floyd … first & third-round tender ($3.168 million)
C Eric Ghiaciuc … not tendered
LB Marques Harris … not tendered
WR Vincent Jackson … first & third-round tender ($3.268 million)
DE Travis Johnson … first-round tender ($1.226 million)
T Marcus McNeill … first & third-round tender ($3.168 million)
LB Shawne Merriman … first & third-round tender ($3.269 million)
RB Darren Sproles … first & third-round tender ($7.283 million)
LB Dontarrious Thomas … not tendered
QB Charlie Whitehurst … third-round tender ($1.176 million)
Unrestricted Free Agents***
DE Alfonso Boone
TE Brandon Manumaleuna
C-G Dennis Norman
WR Kassim Osgood
T Jon Runyan
DT Ian Scott
TE Kris Wilson
* Exclusive Rights Free Agent (EFA) – A veteran player with two or less accrued seasons.
** Restricted Free Agent (RFA) – A veteran player that has 3-5 accrued seasons may sign an “offer sheet” with another team, but his original team has the option to match the offer (if it has sent the player a qualifying offer by today). If the original team decides not to match the offer, they can be compensated with draft picks from the other team. The new club has until April 15 to sign a RFA to an offer sheet. A RFA may sign only one offer sheet and the original club then has seven days to match the offer.
*** Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA) – A player with six or more accrued seasons whose contract has expired. He is free to sign with any club, with no compensation owed to his old club, through July 22 (or the first scheduled day of the first NFL training camp, whichever is later). At that point, his rights revert to his old club if it made a "tender" offer (110 percent of last year's salary) to him by June 1. His old club then has until the Tuesday after the 10th week of the season (November 16) to sign him. If he does not sign by November 16, he must sit out the season. If no tender is offered by June 1, the player can be signed by any club at any time throughout the season.