Philip Rivers, probably the most important piece on a team that wants long-term success, is signed. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, he will be the Chargers starting quarterback at least through 2015. This is fantastic news, but it's starting up something that's rubbing me the wrong way. Chargers fans and other sports writers want more.
The team has signed Rivers. "Who's next to sign?" Nobody. Not without something changing. Let me explain.
Everything we've heard about the NFL's Collective Bargaining Agreement is that the two sides are quite far apart and there is a very good chance that 2010 will be an uncapped year. Let's take a look at the Chargers free agents after 2009 if there is not a new CBA in place:
That's it. That's the entire list. If there's no new CBA in place before the 2010 free agency season begins, these are the only unrestricted free agents that the team could lose without getting any sort of compensation.
I feel that writing about the team every day has led me to create a psychological profile on A.J. Smith. In brief, A.J. always maintains the upper hand and never looks back with regret. He will not be fooled or pushed into overpaying. He will not pay a player top dollar if he feels that the backup is nearly as good (and significantly cheaper). While certain people may get rubbed the wrong way by him sometimes, this is the person you want running your franchise for long-term stability and success.
Want to know why Rivers didn't get signed until now? Because if he had been signed, and then Eli Manning signed for a significantly smaller dollar amount, there would've been egg of Smith's face. He'd rather take the patient approach and wait it out. Once Manning's deal was done, an offer was made. It wasn't necessarily a low-ball offer, it was low-to-fair and below what Manning was going to get paid. Rivers, who doesn't seem to care about the money all that much, was more than happy to sign the fair deal. Patience saved the Chargers money.
Here's a list of Chargers players that will become unrestricted free agents if there is a new CBA in place:
- Chris Chambers
- Kassim Osgood
- Malcom Floyd
- Ian Scott
- Shawne Merriman
- Vincent Jackson
- Darren Sproles
- Marcus McNeill
To put it in simpler terms, with a CBA in place Merriman, Jackson, Sproles and McNeill are all in line for huge raises. Without it, they're each spending at least one more year at a salary comparable to a rookie's. Do you really think A.J. Smith would start handing out contracts to these guys, knowing that there's a possibility that he will be drastically overpaying them? Not a chance.
Smith will be patient. If a new CBA is worked out, that's when negotiations will start. If one isn't, he'll start offering RFA tenders and thinking about what to do with all of the money being saved and/or draft picks that will be coming in. Rivers was set to be in that first group, a free agent either way, if he wasn't signed. That's why he got his deal done. I wouldn't expect any more until a new CBA is agreed upon, which may not be for years.
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