Contract Talks

Getting antsy yet about the lack of movement on the contract front? It appears the next 24 hours may be pivotal in negotiations and something could be announced as soon as tomorrow or Friday for one, if not more, of the San Diego Chargers draft picks.

As of Wednesday, the Chargers had signed just one of eight draft picks.

"Well we have met with Ed (McGuire) and AJ (Smith) and we are pretty close to getting something done," said San Diego based agent Rich Moran. Moran represents Courtney VanBuren, a third round draft pick of the Chargers.

"He said he wanted to start in July, during the Fourth of July, a couple of days, no one was able to work, but we are real close. Hopefully we can get something done in the next 24 hours."

Van Buren was selected with the 80th pick overall in the 2003 NFL Draft. Hailing from Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Van Buren is looking to get his reps in during the upcoming training camp. He is expected to see time at offensive tackle during the season and use his athleticism to be a bookend for years to come.

Van Buren is currently listed behind Damion McIntosh on the depth chart. McIntosh can become an unrestricted free agent after the season.

Thus far, just four third round draft choices have signed with their respective teams. Seth Wand, Julian Battle, Gerald Hayes and Ricky Manning Jr. are the precious few. Van Buren could add his name to that list shortly – within the next 48 hours.

"We are getting close, but we are not there yet," said Harold Lewis, the agent for Mike Scifres.

Scifres was taken by the Chargers in the fifth round of the 2003 NFL Draft, 149th overall. He was the first punter selected in the draft and widely considered the best punter available.

Scifres is listed second on the depth charts as a placekicker (behind Steve Christie) and second as a punter and holder (behind Darren Bennett on both). In this early stage, it appears he has wrapped up the kickoff duties for the Bolts.

Thirteen of thirty eight 5th round picks have signed deals at this stage of the negotiations. That number figures to increase quickly in the coming week.

Lewis represents four drafted players and two of those players have signed with their respective teams.

"Nothing is going on right now. We will probably start talking either later this week or first thing Monday," said Sammy Davis' agent Jimmy Sexton.

The only first round draft pick to sign on the dotted line did so before the draft. Carson Palmer signed his deal with Cincinnati days before the draft for an estimated $40 million over six years that could move to $49 million if he hits certain incentives.

Davis was chosen 30th overall and the holdup could be the expected signing of 29th overall pick Nick Barnett of the Green Bay Packers. Green Bay opens camp this week and Barnett is expected to be a starter in the middle of their defense. That could push the Packers to set the market on first round picks by coming to a deal with Barnett and his agent.

With agent Jimmy Sexton confirming talks could be at the end of this week or Monday, it confirms the thought process.

Sexton represents a total of six clients, one has signed, and all of the rest of his clients were chosen in rounds three or below. He could be looking to wrap those up this week in order to put all his effort into getting Davis signed and in camp.

Denis Savage can be reached at safage@cox.net

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