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Changing the climate

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Concudan, Mar 2, 2007.

  1. Concudan

    Concudan Still Chargin Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 5, 2006
    In final day before free agency, Smith cuts ties with McCardell and trio with off-field troubles, signs Neal to three-year extension

    By Kevin Acee
    March 2, 2007

    Before Kris Dielman left for Seattle aboard a private plane, before a weekend of watching the free-agent market “settle,” A.J. Smith did some housekeeping.

    Lorenzo Neal was rewarded. Keenan McCardell was let go.

    And Smith officially cleaned up some of the mess that had troubled him so, releasing Steve Foley, Terrence Kiel and Ryan Krause yesterday.

    The moves were expected but noteworthy because all three players were involved in off-the-field incidents this past season.

    “You're a Charger one year at a time,” Smith said, carefully vague on the reasons for the cuts. “You're judged off the field, on the field, production and work ethic.”

    But he also said this: “It was a very embarrassing year. I didn't like it.”

    Foley, a linebacker, is still recovering from wounds suffered in a September shooting and will likely not play again. Krause, a tight end who has pleaded not guilty to a DUI charge, was often injured and would likely have been let go anyway.

    But parting with Kiel is significant. The Chargers' starting strong safety the past 3½ seasons, Kiel was a second-round pick in Smith's first draft. However, Kiel's arrest and ongoing legal issues stemming from alleged drug trafficking were his downfall here.

    Aaron Shea, a tight end signed last spring who never played because of a back injury, was also released.

    Before addressing those issues, Smith made a more pleasant move to reward one of his team's leaders.

    Neal became the NFL's highest-paid fullback yesterday morning when he signed a three-year extension through 2010 that will pay him $2 million up front and $5.925 million over the life of the deal. The $1.975 million average is higher than anyone else at his position.

    “They recognized he is the best, and they recognized he outplayed his contract,” said Neal's agent, Steve Feldman of Gersh Sports. “The Chargers did a great job. They stepped up and paid him.”

    In October 2005, Neal signed a two-year, $2 million extension that runs through 2007.

    With the jettisoning of McCardell, Neal is now the oldest Charger at 36.

    “I'd hate to say he's going to retire here,” Smith said. “He'd get mad at me. We might do another contract after this one.”

    The release of the wide receiver McCardell was not a surprise. Rarely used in the second half of the season, his role this year was going to continue to be limited and could not justify the $3.266 million cap hit.

    The Chargers have more than $12 million in cap room now, plenty considering they have so many core players (25) locked up through 2009. But Smith reiterated he will not be “jumping into free agency quick – in the first five days or so. It will be fast and furious in the first couple days. We'll just see where the market settles.”

    The most significant move regarding the Chargers will be the likely departure of Dielman, their left guard, who will visit with the Seattle Seahawks today.

    Smith spoke with Dielman on the phone yesterday morning, and Chargers Vice President Ed McGuire spoke with Dielman's agent. Smith expressed optimism the team would get a chance to increase its offer to Dielman after a hard offer is in from Seattle.

    But it still seems unlikely the Chargers will match that offer, because while Smith said there is “wiggle room,” he is not going to come up to the roughly $15 million in guaranteed money with a yearly average of more than $6 million that Dielman is expected to get over six years.

    “That's a great player, a Pro Bowler waiting to happen,” Smith said. “If he's with us I will be one happy guy. If he's not I'll be extremely disappointed. But I'll be happy for him.”

    When they last exchanged numbers – in November – the sides were apart by about $1 million a year over five years. That gap is greater now, perhaps almost doubled.

    Mike McCartney, Dielman's agent, declined to comment on numbers or on the likelihood his client will play for someone else.

    “We're just going to take this a step at a time,” McCartney said.

    Miami, Cleveland, Atlanta and San Francisco are also potential suitors, should Dielman not end up a Seahawk by tonight.

    The Chargers also hope to re-sign backup center Cory Withrow. But Withrow wants more than the one year the Chargers are offering, so he will test the market. Also testing the market but still on the Chargers' radar are linebackers Carlos Polk and Randall Godfrey.

    It had already been made public that Donnie Edwards was leaving, but Smith was nonetheless asked about the popular linebacker yesterday.

    “I think it's best both parties move on,” Smith said.

    Edwards has not returned messages since the season ended.

    The Chargers also announced nine players had surgeries – all of which were minor, though some will limit players in offseason workouts. Linebacker Shawne Merriman will be sidelined another month or two after having shoulder surgery following the Pro Bowl.
  2. AnteaterRaider

    AnteaterRaider Carpe Diem et omni Mundio Staff Member Super Moderator Podcaster

    Jan 19, 2006
    stop acting like bolt-bot
  3. Concudan

    Concudan Still Chargin Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 5, 2006
    Kiss my ( * )
  4. Thread_Killer

    Thread_Killer Well-Known Member

    Feb 6, 2006
    I apprectiate the posted articles in thread format. Thank you Concudan.
  5. Electric Chair

    Electric Chair Well-Known Member

    May 23, 2006
  6. Boltjolt

    Boltjolt Well-Known Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Yea, whats the problem with that?:icon_shrug:

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