Chargers In The News: Free Agency Problems For The Bolts

How will a new labor agreement affect free agency for the Chargers? Who might be staying and who might be leaving before the 2011 season kicks off? Learn more in this week’s Chargers In The News…

Ramifications Of The Brady Class Action Lawsuit

There is some valid speculation that the plaintiffs in the Tom Brady class action lawsuit against the NFL, a list which includes, among others, Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, and Vincent Jackson, could receive an exemption from any Franchise tag that is included in a new labor agreement. In a similar case, plaintiffs in the Reggie White class action lawsuit gained such an exemption following a new labor agreement.

Jackson, who already feels like he was screwed by the system last season, would jump at the chance to leave San Diego for a fat, long-term contract. The Chargers have yet to make any indication that they would be willing to make such an offer to their star receiver. Could a player-friendly ruling in the Brady class action suit push the team to try to keep their star receiver? Chargers fans want to keep VJ, but Chargers management seem more than ready to let him walk.

The Chargers And Free Agency

Speaking of letting players walk, a number of other Chargers players will have the ability to walk away from the team following a new labor agreement. Starters Eric Weddle, Malcolm Floyd, Jeromey Clary, Kevin Burnett, and Stephen Cooper lead a list of Chargers players who will be able to test the free agent market if free agency reverts back to a four-year service time.

The team is expected to make the signing of Weddle, Clary, and Burnett a priority. Add Floyd to that list if Jackson is allowed to leave as a free agent. But the player expected to get the most attention on the free agent market at this point is Weddle. Teams who have reportedly already shown interest in Weddle include Jacksonville, Dallas, Minnesota, and St. Louis.

What may become the most interesting offseason story following a labor agreement is the Chargers’ ability to sign their own free agents. As a GM, AJ Smith has developed a reputation as a hard negotiator with no respect for a player’s needs and wishes. Would it really surprise anyone if a player like Weddle shows the team no preferential treatment due to this perceived lack of respect?

That being said, if the Franchise tag is stripped from Jackson, expect it to be immediately slapped onto Weddle.

Trading For Steve Smith

Given the many scenarios that could play out with a new labor agreement and the free agent frenzy to follow, the Chargers could theoretically be without the services of Jackson, Floyd, Legedu Nanee, and Buster Davis at wide receiver. That would make this report from The Charlotte Observer more applicable to the Bolts. Reportedly, WR Steve Smith may be acquired from the Carolina Panthers for a third round pick. Given Smith’s preference to play in California, he may be more willing to restructure his contract to join the Chargers. And the Chargers may have no choice but to make a run at the former Pro Bowler.

It’s about to get interesting in the NFL, assuming a new labor deal is imminent. What are your priorities for the Chargers when business presumably resumes in July? Can Chargers management make the right moves to reverse the team’s current slide? Sound off below and share your wisdom with us!

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June 29, 2011

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