I believe there is a subtle but growing feeling among Chargers players in regards to their commitment to their team. It seems that more and more, players are looking beyond the Chargers when it comes to the future of their NFL careers.
You remember the Vincent Jackson saga from last season. The Chargers wouldn’t pay him what he thought he was worth, so he sat out and eventually tried to negotiate a deal to play for another team. This deal probably wasn’t going to equate to a long-term deal for Jackson, but he knew the Chargers wouldn’t move from their position so he was ready to move on.
In the current offseason, we have already seen safety Eric Weddle make statements that, in effect, showed he would be ok not playing for the Chargers next year, claiming that he would “leave in a heartbeat” if he didn’t get the contract he wanted in San Diego. Is that simply a tough negotiating stance or a player who would be happy with a change of scenery?
Inside linebacker Stephen Cooper is under the assumption that he is not coming back to San Diego, which is probably a safe assumption. He said he is excited for the opportunity to test the market, but I can’t imagine that he wouldn’t come back if given the opportunity.
In a game where camaraderie and continuity do account for something, the Chargers seem to be losing off the field more than on the field in recent years, and their declining performance may be the surest sign of that suggestion. Yes, the Chargers have made long-term commitments to their Pro Bowl quarterback, tight end, and left tackle. Yet, they also have nine key players who received restricted free-agent tenders, seven of whom will likely be unrestricted free-agents once the Collective Bargaining Agreement mess has been sorted out. How many of those soon to be unrestricted free agents have received multi-year offers from the Chargers? None. In the Chargers view, they will do only the bare minimum of what they have to do at this point. It reminds me of a quote from a famous 20th century philosopher, Stan, The Manager Of Chotchkie’s, from Office Space:
“Look, we want you to express yourself, ok? If you think the bare minimum is enough, then ok. But some people choose to (do) more and we encourage that, ok?”
That’s how I feel about the Chargers stance on player contracts at this point, ok? One might feel a little better about Chargers roster moves if there was a concerted effort to improve the roster when a player moves on, but for the most part that has yet to happen.
In other Chargers news:
* Mayor Jerry Sanders and Chargers President Dean Spanos met recently to discuss stadium issues. With the California state government trying to deny cities redevelopment funding for things like sports stadiums, and no NFL funding available at this time due to CBA issues, I’m not sure what progress they can make. But at least they are talking, and hopefully someone can get creative about alternative financing options.
* Speaking of the CBA, I was very optimistic about the chances for an agreement this week after owners and players agreed to an extension to continue negotiations. Unfortunately, discussions seem to have hit a roadblock in the form of full financial disclosure from the owners, and the players union seems unlikely to budge on that demand. Since the owners could be forced to provide that information in court, I’m still hopeful that this issue can be resolved before the end of the week.
* Expect a lot of information and opinion in the coming weeks regarding the Chargers draft. I love talking draft day scenarios and guessing who the Chargers might select, but it is almost always a fruitless exercise for two reasons. First, it’s impossible to know every player who will come off the board before the Chargers pick at #18 in the first round. Second, it is almost impossible to predict what AJ Smith will do with a draft pick, because of his penchant for making unexpected moves in the draft.
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