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Smith will consider draft trades
SAN DIEGO – General Manager A.J. Smith and Executive Vice President of Football Operations Ed McGuire’s phones are about to blow up like a stock broker during Facebook’s upcoming IPO.
As the NFL Draft draws near, teams begin a dialogue, gauging the league for value and determining what options are available for potential trades.
Some teams don’t get a lot of calls, but, as Smith puts it, the Chargers’ reputation makes them one of the organizations involved in a lot of conversations. Teams with a proven willingness to make deals call each other regularly and probe for trades that would benefit both clubs.
“Some organizations maybe are hesitant to be involved in the draft process and stay the same. We’re known around the league as a player,” Smith said.
Despite that, the Chargers have not made a trade since Sept. 3, 2010, the longest trade drought in franchise history.
Smith has executed 20 trades since taking over as General Manager in 2003. Nearly half of those have come in April.
San Diego’s five playoff appearances and 91 wins under Smith, it could be argued, would not have happened without his draft trades.
There was the famous blockbuster in ’04 that netted Philip Rivers, Nate Kaeding and Shawne Merriman, but Smith also snared All-Pro free safety Eric Weddle, Pro Bowl running back Ryan Mathews, blossoming young playmaker Donald Butler, backup nose tackle Cam Thomas and glue guy Jacob Hester because of draft-related trades.
Smith made five trades in a seven-week span starting March 5, 2010, then seized receiver Patrick Crayton for a seventh-round pick before the season opener, and hasn’t made a deal since.
The Chargers stood pat and executed all eight draft selections a year ago for the first time in Smith’s tenure. Predicting Smith’s strategy has proved futile. As easy as it is to pinpoint his philosophy, it’s just as difficult to detect a pattern in his execution.
“We have done it all,” Smith said.
The Chargers have the 18th pick in each of the draft’s seven rounds this year, plus an additional seventh-round compensatory selection. Smith won’t reveal his answers, but he does provide the questions he asks himself.
“It depends on the circumstances of that particular year,” Smith said. “What do we need? What players do we like? Is there a price that we’re willing to pay to go get a particular individual, or the opposite?
“I’m not really willing to trade down to get multiple picks because there’s some people that I feel we really need to stay where we are to have our best options to select.
“Last year I just felt it was best to execute the (picks) that we had.”