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News » San Diego Chargers Inside Slant 2009-02-24

San Diego Chargers Inside Slant 2009-02-24

San Diego Chargers Inside Slant 2009-02-24
Now Chargers fans wait for the other cleat to drop.

The Chargers took care of one of their offseason task by designating running back/returner Darren Sproles as their franchise player.

Next up for general manager A.J. Smith is the contract of LaDainian Tomlinson.

But first Smith wanted to restrict Sproles' dip into the free agency pool.

Sproles can still talk to other clubs, but any team wanting him would now have to eclipse the Chargers' $6.62 million offer and deliver two first-round picks to secure Sproles.

That won't happen, so by all accounts it appears Sproles is back as a returner and part-time running back.

"We thought a lot about it and we felt a little bit uncomfortable with the unknown, which would be Darren entering the open market," Smith told reporters. "At that point, we would have been one of 32 teams. We've decided to put a franchise tag on him and have him as a part of our team for this year."

There's a chance to parties could get together on a long-term deal. But for the short term, pencil the 5-foot-6, 181-pound Sproles as a Charger.

Now what about Tomlinson?

Smith claims Sproles' deal doesn't figure into his talk with Tomlinson.

"Has L.T. been eliminated from the process because of the franchise tag? Absolutely not," Smith said. "This designation has nothing to do with LaDainian Tomlinson. We're hoping to get a new deal done with him. One thing is not related to the other."

Smith is hopeful of speaking with Tomlinson's agent, Tom Condon, at the NFL Scouting Combine. Tomlinson, the AFC's fourth-leading rusher last season, has said he would consider a reworked deal to stay with the team.

His current cap number is north of $8 million and the Chargers have deemed that too high. On the horizon are potential deals to be worked out with quarterback Philip Rivers, outside linebacker Shawne Merriman, left tackle Marcus McNeill and tight end Antonio Gates.

All four have Pro Bowls on their resume and won't come cheap.

Sproles saw his value skyrocket after last season, in which he collected 2,297 all-purpose yards and seven touchdowns.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: February 24, 2009

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Shaun Phillips Name: Shaun Phillips
Position: LB
Age: 27
Experience: 5 years
College: Purdue
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