Having just completed my 23rd year in Madden 2006 franchise mode with all rosters helpfully updated I feel I am in an excellent position to evaluate what the Chargers should do in free agency and the draft. (I won’t use the more modern versions of Madden because that would mean going to the living room where the XBOX is and I refuse to do this unless on my way through to the kitchen for coffee. I prefer using the computer and, besides, I don’t know how to cheat as well on the newer versions.)
I have successfully led the Chargers to 22 Super Bowl championships in 23 years (I tanked the first one to get a higher draft choice) and so I feel my opinion should count for quite a bit. After much consideration, I have decided to lend my expertise to Chargers GM Tom Telesco. Oh, just so you know, Mr. McCoy, you will retire in seven years having nothing left to accomplish. You’re welcome.
First off, if you find yourself needing a great player, make one! That’s right. I would recommend making a player with your own name. That way you, Tom Telesco, can watch your creation, number 26 T. Telesco running wild through the opposing defense like a beast. Don’t worry about it if you make a super character with 99s all the way down the board. You are the boss!
Obviously, the next step is learning how to cheat if you haven’t figured this out, yet. For some bizarre reason NFL teams will always accept a trade of your first round draft pick for theirs. I haven’t had my own first round draft choice in 22 years, but I’ve had the Raiders’ draft choice 9 times, the Browns’ 6 times, the Titans’ 3 times and the Vikings, Bears and Buccaneers choices once apiece. The important thing to keep in mind about this is it’s too late to do it now unless you can bilk the Packers out of Aaron Rodgers. The teams won’t trade with you after the offseason starts unless you give them Rodgers and at least a third round draft choice. So, trade this choice before the end of the trading window to someone with a much worse record than yours. Important to note, DO NOT TRADE TO THE PATRIOTS! They will always pull out enough wins to screw you out of the number one pick. NE Coach (Bill Belichick because he wouldn’t let Madden use his name) is like 116 years old now and hasn’t had the number one pick, yet.
What would be ideal is to contact the NFL and tell them to do away with the trade deadline. So long as you trade with a team before the playoffs start they still give you their first round pick for yours, even if they are 0-16 as the Raiders have been four times. Please be advised that if you allow relocation so you can replace the rotting husk that is Qualcomm; the Raiders will quickly become the Mexico City Road Dogs or something similar. Do not be alarmed by this, as a Raider by any other name is still a Raider.
The second step is to get rid of players over 34 unless they’re quarterbacks or safeties. Not many people care how fast a quarterback can run if you have a good line and safeties just really have cool names so shouldn’t be discarded readily. Once you’ve done this; sign young players for seven years. You can get them dirt-cheap and develop them behind stars until they, themselves, become stars. Be careful, however, with this strategy, as you do not want to sign three left guards as I did. No one needs that many left guards. However, the tendency is to push it as far as it’ll go so I understand if this happens.
When you draft, please see the second step. Let a computer draft for you. Before the teams sign their picks go through the list of fresh-faced rookies and see all the good ones. Once you have made your list utilize Einstein's theory of Special Relativity to go back in time before the draft. This will save you a ton of frustration because, let’s be honest, the damn scouts are just friggin’ useless at talent evaluation. They tell you "oh, yeah, draft that TE there. He’s a beast." If you listen to them, you will have a 5’10" tight end that weighs 356 pounds and couldn’t catch a cold in a CDC testing facility. To hell with them.
Once you have redrafted your rookie class do not sign them! This is important. If you sign them they will want to be paid like a real player (rookie wage scale hadn’t been introduced, yet). Release the rookies! Allow them to fly free and just move on to the free agency period after the draft. I know what you’re thinking and you shouldn’t worry. All will be clear soon.
During the first part of free agency sign all the best players, whether you need them or not. Importantly, do not sign safeties or tight ends. You can’t trade a safety or tight end for anything, even a 52 year old place kicker. I know, I’ve tried. Adam Vinatieri will never retire, by the way. I don't know why. He just won't. If the free agent is young enough, sign him to a seven year deal! Don’t worry, the last four years of the contract don’t mean anything. You can rework the contract and bring their numbers down. But, and here’s the important part; if you sign a great player you don’t want or need, only sign them to one year deals and do not give them a signing bonus! This is bad. It may cost you more in cap space but they’re easy to dump later.
Also, do not be afraid of other teams signing your free agents. Time stops when you have made your offer and if you give them enough they won’t stray. This leads me back to your rookie class. Once free agency restarts after the draft, sign them all! They won’t want much of anything because, hey, they’re rookies! You can get a top notch player for a pittance. 7 year contracts all around, baby!
The last piece of advice is this: remember all those pricey free agents you signed when free agency started that you didn’t really need or want? Unload them all! That’s right, trade them to crappy teams for their first round picks. They will be happy to do this because they don’t know any better and you will have the first 6 picks in the draft.
If you follow my advice you, too, will win the Super Bowl 22 years running and Al Michaels will be singing your praises, even well into his 90s. I’m sorry you can’t retire in seven years like Mike McCoy but, hey, who cares if you keep winning, right?