Smith New Chargers GM

A.J. Smith has been promoted to General Manager of the San Diego Chargers, succeeding the late John Butler, a move that will be announced Tuesday. Smith was given full control over the NFL Draft this weekend, and the move was expected.<br><br> According to league sources, he'll receive a four-year contract worth $4 million.

AJ Smith will be introduced at a news conference Tuesday afternoon, said a team source.

President Dean Spanos held off on the announcement last week in wake of John Bitler's passing stating, "This week is dedicated to John. We have to continue on with the draft. We will address the situation shortly."

Smith and Butler worked together for 21 seasons, through three different organizations.

Butler, 56, died of cancer on April 11.

A few hours after Butler died, team president Dean Spanos announced that the 54-year-old Smith would run the Chargers' draft this weekend.

"A.J.'s experience, both in the NFL and in our system, made him the ideal candidate. In the two years that John was our general manager, he created a terrific infrastructure for our front office. A.J. was the first and most important person that John hired. When the right man is already in place, it makes for a logical and seamless transition."

"John and I had talked long ago of our confidence in A.J.'s ability to lead us through the draft in the event John was unable to be there," said Spanos. "As someone who has worked side-by-side with John for 21 years, we know the procedures that have been successful for us over the past two drafts will continue. Just as John had always done, now A.J. will make the final decisions."

Butler brought Smith with him from the Bills as assistant GM and director of pro personnel.

After Butler was diagnosed with cancer on July 4, Smith was given more college scouting duties.

"I slid over him with more emphasis on the college with John in anticipation if things don't go well. So I have been really locked on particularly since January with doing evaluations. So this has been unusual, I really have been wearing two hats since July 4th to be perfectly honest," AJ Smith said last week.

"This is a job I've prepared for my entire professional life," said Smith. "I'm grateful to Dean for this opportunity. No one could ever completely fill John Butler's shoes, but one thing is certain; I'm going to do everything in my power to help this team return to the playoffs and the Super Bowl."

"It's been hard for me," Smith said, "since John passed away. Working from early in the morning till late at night has been an escape.

"But there are times when I'm driving alone in my car, or when I'm at home, or when I'm sitting in his chair, where I used to sit beside him, that I think back on all our years together. I have moments when things flash through my head. The guys here know what I'm going through.

"When I go up to make our first selection in [Saturday's] draft -- when I pull that first name off the board -- my vision may be a little blurry."

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