Can San Diego Weather The "Storm" Of 2010

Normally having the best players meant having to pay out the biggest contracts, but the Chargers have been lucky; Not only have they had more hits than misses in the draft over the years, they have been especially good at finding value in the middle rounds as well as taking gambles on players who slipped due to medical concerns (See: Anthony Waters, Antonio Cromartie, Marcus McNeil, and Luis Castillo).

The Chargers have also drove a hard bargain when dealing with resigning their own players. Antonio Gates is not the highest paid Tight End in the game, but he is arguably the best. The same could be said about Offensive Guard Kris Dielman. The Chargers could not offer him the money a team like Seattle could, but Dielman nonetheless resigned with the Bolts. And Quentin Jammer, one of the most underrated players in the AFC, resigned with San Diego for what was a modest contract for a starting Cornerback.

It is because of the team’s wise cap management (frugality) that allows them a bit of breathing room come 2010. Unless the NFLPA and the league can re-work their collective bargaining agreement, it looks like 2010 will be an uncapped team for teams. This means teams like the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins will be able to open up their wallets to potential free agents. This also means smaller market teams like the Chargers will have a tough time competing for those players. While I am not suggesting that the Spanos family is hurting for cash, I have a hard time believing their pool is filled with money like Jerry Jones’ is.

John Clayton of ESPN takes a look at some of the teams that will be most affected by an uncapped year, and he also examines which teams are best prepared to weather the storm. It turns out, San Diego might once again avoid the storm:

San Diego Chargers: The Chargers have done one of the best jobs of locking up starters in case of an uncapped year. The core group of the team is still young. San Diego has multiple starters who have been to the Pro Bowl and only four would qualify for free agency in 2010 -- guard Mike Goff, quarterback Philip Rivers, wide receiver Chris Chambers and defensive end Igor Olshansky. As long as he comes back successfully from knee reconstruction, Rivers won't be allowed to hit the market. His contract runs out after the 2009 season, and clearly the Chargers will either sign him to a long-term deal or, in the worst-case scenario, franchise him. The Chargers believe they have at least a two-year window to win a Super Bowl. An uncapped year in 2010 won't affect that window.

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May 29, 2008

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