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Chargers leadership collaborates on plan

Posted Feb 10, 2012

Team President Dean Spanos, General Manager A.J. Smith, Head Coach Norv Turner and several men from the player personnel department held their annual post-Super Bowl conference earlier this week.

The initial three-day group discussion marks the first serious decision-making regarding the 2012 roster. The Chargers develop a large chunk of their plan to improve the team in the draft and free agency and begin to determine whom they’d like to keep from last year’s team.

Here is General Manager A.J. Smith’s first-person explanation of all the different questions addressed during the meetings and the vetting process that gets San Diego ready for the 2012 football season.

SAN DIEGO – After the season we step back. We take some time. ‘Let the dust settle’ is an expression I use.

Then we get together and we start to move forward with the process. The initial phase took place Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

What does that mean? First of all, the people involved are Dean Spanos, myself, Head Coach Norv Turner, Ed McGuire, Jimmy Raye, John Spanos and Denny Abraham. Those are the people that are involved during these discussions.

What we discuss is: what are we going to do, and what is our plan that we’re going to formulate in the next couple weeks leading into open free agency on March 13?

Now, what is the process?

We’ve evaluated the careers of some of our players and in particular last year’s season. Moving forward to build our team for 2012 and with a little bit of an eye to the future, which we have to do, what Chargers do we want to remain on our team and where are we going to go in another direction?

What players are free agents – totally free agents (unrestricted)? Which ones would we like to offer contracts? What is our list of possible free agents that we’d be interested in? We start to talk about that.

Are there any outside linebackers, defensive ends, running backs, tackles, guards, etcetera?

We go through all the positions and the free agents and we classify them. We decide what we think each free agent will get (contract) on the open market, starting with the most sought-after players. It’s speculation on our part, but we’re pretty good at that. We break the free agents into two other categories as well. ‘B’ or ‘C’ level players might not go immediately in the first couple weeks and would not demand high money. Are we interested in someone from the second level? The third level? We meticulously look at that.

We could extend (contracts to) some players that are in their last year or maybe have two years left on their contracts and that’s something we discuss.

We look at injuries. What players have been injured over a period of time? Are we going to continue on and hope for the best with some injury concerns we have, or have we gone enough time where we’re going to go in another direction? We tie all that up.

And again we analyze our own players. If there are players that are free agents, they can go to any team. What is our priority list of players that we would like to bring back? What do we expect our own free agents to get on the open market? Again, we speculate the market value of our players just like we do the players around the league.

We get two plans ready to go. Meaning, if we go after one of our own players and it doesn’t work out, then we turn to free agency, or do we turn to the draft?

If that money was prepared to be spent and we didn’t spend it, we still have it. How do we use it to help the team? For example, going back a year, we had Eric Weddle and we knew that he’d be very expensive. We knew that he’d be highly demanded in the NFL. We had a budget. We had a ceiling. We ended up getting our player back, so we spent that.

As an example, if it didn’t work out and Eric Weddle, first, we would’ve been disappointed. Then we would’ve taken all of that money allotted for Eric Weddle and redistributed it someplace else.

That’s our mindset and how we go through all of these things.

The main part took place these last three days. Monday, Tuesday and a half-day Wednesday.

Now, as the days go by, we will have other little meetings along the way and start to really tighten up the final plan. This is the first time since the last game was played that we’re really making solid plans and looking forward.
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