each took a look at the possibility of each player returning. This was initial reactions and honest assessments without any of the new knowledge gained since then that may influence the hard look at players. The following is a look at the restricted free agents and exclusive free agents of note."> each took a look at the possibility of each player returning. This was initial reactions and honest assessments without any of the new knowledge gained since then that may influence the hard look at players. The following is a look at the restricted free agents and exclusive free agents of note.">

Chargers' Exclusive, Restricted Outlook

After the season ended, before even the Super Bowl, the writers here at <a href=""></a> each took a look at the possibility of each player returning. This was initial reactions and honest assessments without any of the new knowledge gained since then that may influence the hard look at players. The following is a look at the restricted free agents and exclusive free agents of note.

While lengthy, this article contains true feelings that will help make you understand just what the Chargers may be thinking when it comes to these players.

Will Mortensen:
Exclusive rights free agents:

C- Jason Ball: Match any offer. Great tenacity. You rarely see his guy make a play.
CB- Kevin House: Worth another look as a 4th corner.
CB- Tony Okanlawon: Too slow for corner, too small for safety.
RB- Jesse Chatman: Never gets his chance in-season. Looks all-pro in pre-season. Good Special teams guy.
S- Vernon Fox: Played better but may not have enough to make up for his height (5-9)
TE- Josh Norman: The ultimate tease. Mis-match nightmare. Could be Shannon Sharpe but cant stay healthy or hang on to the football.
WR- Eric Parker: Not a #2 but maybe a good #3/punt returner. Fair catch is not in his vocabulary. Let his shoulder heal and see what he can do over a full season. Makes plays.
DT- DeQuincy Scott: Situational pass rusher but he's good at it. Like to see him rushing off the edge.
WR- Micah Ross: Just a special teams guy and didn't stand out.
C/G- David Brandt: Emergency back up.
WR- Dondre Gilliam- The ultimate journeyman. When given the chance he made some plays but is a #4 type WR. Deserves another go round in camp.

Restricted free agents:

OG/C- Michael Keathley: Not quite a good back up but he's got room to grow. Could be brought back as competition.
DE- Otis Leverette: Showed some talent. Worth another look at a cheap price: Give him the pen.
LB- Zeke Moreno: Has some value as back-up OLB/ back-up long-snapper. Not fast enough.
LB- Carlos Polk: Big and physical but might not be savvy enough to start at LB. Had some costly penalties on special teams. The hourglass is running out.

Kenny Williams:
Exclusive rights free agents:

C- Jason Ball: 100% Has to stay healthy this year. Is a solid affordable center that needs to add a little strength to push himself to the next level.
CB- Kevin House: Improved with each game he played. An above average athlete, might be able to contribute to nickel and dime packages next season.
CB- Tony Okanlawon: 25% Hard worker, just doesn't seem to have "it"
RB- Jesse Chatman: 50% Hasn't really had an opportunity to show his ability during the season. Nice hands and a productive special teams performer. Is he a Martyball back?
S- Vernon Fox: 0% With Milligan healthy, he will need to find work elsewhere.
TE- Josh Norman: 25% Another player who has had his moments, but also has trouble staying healthy. Does not contribute on special teams, so will probably be looking for work elsewhere.
WR- Eric Parker: 100% *IF he can stay healthy next year and if the Chargers draft or pick up a legit FA WR, Parker will have a breakout year. One of the quickest players in the league. He's special and the rest of the league will find out just how special in 2004.
DT- DeQuincy Scott: 100% Imagine what he could do as a full time starter? Maybe he'll have that chance at DE next season. Stayed tuned because we will be catching up w/DQ to ask him this very question.
WR- Micah Ross: 0% 0 career catches? Do I need to say more?
C/G- David Brandt: 0% Might want to see if U of M can grant him 1 more year of eligibility.
WR- Dondre Gilliam: 0% This guys deserves a legitimate shot with another team. Will probably come back to haunt the Chargers.

Restricted free agents:

OG/C- Michael Keathley: 0% Back to the ranch. Should name his kid after LT.
DE- Otis Leverette: 50% Recorded 23 tackles in only 7 games compared to Hugh Douglass who had 26 in 16 games. Needed to stand out when he had his chance, not sure if he did.
LB- Zeke Moreno: 75% Played better as the season progressed. Also put up similar numbers to Seau. Will return to a backup in 2004.
LB- Carlos Polk: 50% Nice special teams player, but had better eliminate the mistakes or he could be an early casualty.

Gary Molyneux:
Exclusive rights free agents:

C- Jason Ball: The coaching staff is reportedly down on Jason because he missed considerable time this year with a high ankle sprain. Originally an undrafted free agent, this second year pro is arguably the team's best offensive lineman, saying quite a bit about the rest of the Chargers line. I would go as far as to say he's the only KEEPER on the entire offensive line.
CB- Kevin House: Blazing speed and not much else. The late John Butler once said that "you can't have too many corners". Perhaps what he should have said was "you've got to keep drafting enough corners until you can get rid of House" TOSS HIM.
CB- Tony Okanlawon: Tony O is a small coverage type CB who does not fit the "press coverage" system that the team refuses to play... so, I guess that is why he's still here... hmm... TOSS HIM.
RB- Jesse Chatman: Chatman has assumed the "scatback" 3rd down RB role that Terrell Fletcher used to fill. He has good hands, adequate speed, and a shifty running style that can make tacklers miss, but lacks the size and power to back up LaDainian Tomlinson as the team's prototype number 2 guy. He COULD BE BACK depending on RB depth.
S- Vernon Fox: Fox spent much of last season backing up Jerry Wilson (see Jerry Wilson), and too much of last season on the playing field. Fox won't likely be playing for an NFL team next year, unless it's a team like the Chargers; who obligingly cut Pro Bowl safeties like Rodney Harrison and Ryan McNeil to make room for players like Vernon Fox. Get some warm bodies at safety and TOSS HIM.
TE- Josh Norman: More of an H-back than a true TE, Norman can impress with his size and running ability once he successfully catches a football, and he did drop far fewer passes this season. He accomplished this by missing even more games than he did during the previous season. TOSS HIM.
WR- Eric Parker: Another undrafted free agent prodigy. Receivers coach James Lofton believes Parker is on his way to NFL stardom. He has shown flashes during limited opportunity, and will likely return as the team's punt returner and slot WR, unless they are foolish enough to let some other team sign him away. KEEPER.
DT- DeQuincy Scott: DQ showed enough to at least return as a situational DT, if not a starter opposite Jamal Williams. His future in San Diego will depend on what the team does in the draft, how they handle DT Jason Fisk's contract, and whether the team goes to a one-gap defense in the off season. Scott COULD RETURN if they run a two-gap.
WR- Micah Ross: Special teams' player was picked up midseason on waivers. COULD BE BACK because he's a wideout, and he returns kicks, and he's breathing.
C/G- David Brandt: Played for Marty in Washington in 2001. Was a substitute High School teacher in Grand Rapids, Michigan during the 2002 season. His ties to Marty and the year spent as a High School football assistant could land him a Coordinator job if the front office isn't very careful. Not much is known about him, other than he did not start for the 2003 Chargers offensive line immediately upon being signed off of the street. Based solely on that, I say we TOSS HIM.
WR- Dondre Gilliam: He's back, he's gone, he's in camp, he's cut, he's active, he's on the practice squad, he's in the game and he's leading the team in receiving yards, he's out on the street, he's back, he's gone, he's back for the final game, and now he's here waiting for a qualifying offer. If you were to ask one player about his head coach's mental stability, this would be the guy... or, maybe not? WHO THE HELL KNOWS.

Restricted free agents:

OG/C- Michael Keathley: He was released by the Chargers during cut downs, picked up by the expansion Houston Texans, and subsequently released by the Texans less than a month later. Keathley was re-signed by the Chargers when their offensive line became decimated to the point that Keathley could actually play on it. TOSS HIM, and put something heavy on the lid so he won't climb back out.
DE- Otis Leverette: Warm. Leverette. Sorry, I just had to get that out. Otis elevated his play... what? Okay so I'm not above this sort of thing. Leverette showed speed and tenacity during limited snaps this year, and could really be a free agent find. Otis will be playing, and possibly even starting for some NFL team next year, and if the Chargers are smart he will still be playing for them. KEEPER.
LB- Zeke Moreno: Moreno was moved into the MLB spot he played at USC, but was forced to run around in way too much space in Dale Lindsey/Marty Alzheimer's defense. Zeke seemed much more suited to playing on the weak side, though he COULD RETURN to either position, if the team hires a coordinator with the ability to run an NFL caliber defense.
LB- Carlos Polk: Carlos is a veteran special team stud, who was drafted 3 years ago to play MLB. He was still a backup last season, and may not return as a backup for another. Polk played up near the line at Nebraska, and it was believed that he would be better able to read the play by dropping back a few yards in an NFL scheme. The knock on Carlos is that he has not shown that ability yet, but to be fair, the team hasn't been deploying an NFL defense either. COULD RETURN in the right system, maybe even as a starter if the right system is finally here.

Rob Curtis:
Exclusive rights free agents:

C- Jason Ball … He is a starter for us and a foundational piece of a very poor unit unless he gets some ridiculous offer in free agency (99.9%)
CB- Kevin House … Will not cost much and is a pretty good special teams player with some developmental possibilities at CB (80%)
CB- Tony Okanlawon … Good bye Tony. It was nice knowing you (5%)
RB- Jesse Chatman … He's cheap and a good special teamer. I do not see him getting any money, so I expect him back (85%)
S- Vernon Fox … For some reason, Schottenheimer seems to like him. After a very bad first year, he seemed to improve in his 2nd year. I think he'll be back in camp, but I don't think he makes the roster (75%)
TE- Josh Norman … Josh Norman has been in the doghouse since he got here. He doesn't play hurt and he appears to have fallen behind Antonio Gates and Justin Peele. I look to see us upgrading the third TE position (30%)
WR- Eric Parker … I expect him to replace Tim Dwight as our 3rd WR and special teams standout (100%)
DT- DeQuincy Scott … I expect him to play a serious role as a situational pass rusher. You could see him move outside to take advantage of his quickness, but he really is more of a DT (95%)
WR- Micah Ross … He might be invited to camp, but he would be camp fodder (5%)
C/G- David Brandt … I expect Brandt to be the front runner to be Jason Ball's backup (85%)
WR- Dondre Gilliam … Camp fodder who I expect to be invited yet again (60%)

Restricted free agents:

OG/C- Michael Keathley … He has been cut already and was brought back once the Chargers were decimated by injury (5%)
DE- Otis Leverette … He is a Schottenheimer guy and probably won't cost much (70%)
LB- Zeke Moreno … He might not be a starter, but he has shown himself to be a very useful situational player. He has maximized his talent (90%)
LB- Carlos Polk … He has been a disappointment. A guy with his size, strength, and speed should be a standout.

Tom Criswell:
Exclusive rights free agents:

C- Jason Ball: Definitely bring back Ball. He is going to be the glue in the middle for years to come to captain this offensive line.
CB- Kevin House: There can be better backups found in free agency, and he was not a stand out on special teams.
CB- Tony Okanlawon: Look at the explanation for House, he did not even suit up for most of the games.
RB- Jesse Chatman: I like Chatman, but he did not show the promise in games that he did in preseason. Though behind this offensive line if your name is not LT you were not going anywhere. He lost his job to Johnson though and this special teams stand out does not do enough to warrant him staying on the team.
S- Vernon Fox: We have better safeties in Milligan, Kiel and Lassiter. I would keep Wilson before I kept Fox.
TE- Josh Norman: Two words: Antonio Gates. Norman lost his job to the talented rookie. He showed promise but could not keep his hands on the ball.
WR- Eric Parker: Bring back Parker and give him a shot at the #3 receiver spot and punt return. If it were not for penalties, he would have had 3 returned for TD's this year.
DT- DeQuincy Scott: Defiantly bring back DQ, he led the team in sacks this year and he was a part time player. The guy's aggressive and his motor is always running -- he gets to the QB.
WR- Micah Ross: No, this guy was brought in when all the other Receivers went down.
C/G- David Brandt: See explanation for Ross only switch receivers for offensive lineman
WR- Dondre Gilliam: Gilliam was a valuable commodity when allowed to play, but he may not get a legitimate shot at this team and should go elsewhere.

Restricted free agents:

DE- Otis Leverette: Leverette is big and fast, and just needs a little seasoning. Bring him back as a back up next year. He got 1 sack in a very minimal role this year.
OG/C- Michael Keathley: Simple – No. We can get better backups in the draft or free agency.
LB- Zeke Moreno: He is better suited for the outside instead of the middle. He still finished second on the team in Tackles with 95 but he is too small and slow for the middle. If they do not bring in a proven middle, swap out Moreno and Edwards or Moreno and Leber. He will not return as the starter at Middle Linebacker for the Chargers come next year.
LB- Carlos Polk: See you later alligator. Being a stand out at special teams is nice and all but he has not done anything in a Chargers uniform other then that.

Denis Savage:
Exclusive rights free agents:

C- Jason Ball: He is the best lineman the Chargers have and will be tendered well.
CB- Kevin House: Actually played well in his debut and stepped in front of Drayton Florence on the depth chart late in the season.
WR- Micah Ross: Signed for depth, won't return.
RB- Jesse Chatman: Provides depth at RB and will return, now if he could only get some scraps so the Bolts truly know what they have.
S- Vernon Fox: With Hanik Milligan back in '04, Fox will lose his spot.
TE- Josh Norman: Inconsistent hands will leave him off the team.
WR- Eric Parker: Will return and must stay healthy to be rewarded with a multiyear deal.
DT- DeQuincy Scott: The most consistent pass rusher this season will return in style.
CB- Tony Okanlawon: Is he a corner or safety these days? The Chargers will likely never find out.
WR- Dondre Gilliam: The poor guy. He deserves a shot and one wonders if he is the next Rod Smith…hiding until another team picks him up.

Restricted free agents:

DE- Otis Leverette: Didn't see the field until the 11th week of the season who showed some nice upside and long arms. He will likely be back to provide depth at end.
OG/C- Michael Keathley: Was signed only when others went on IR. He will not return.
LB- Zeke Moreno: Is the starter this year but has not been consistent enough to warrant a return engagement. A 3-4 may actually hurt his chances of returning.
LB- Carlos Polk: Special teams maniac has never cracked the starting lineup. Nuff said from here.

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