Chargers GM Toeing a Thin Line

The New York Giants have contacted the San Diego Chargers in regards to the first overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft. There have been rumors that the Giants would make a move on the pick for a couple of weeks. The Giants are said to covet Eli Manning. What makes this so interesting is not what we already knew, but the fact that AJ Smith made it public.

Trades, generally, are top secret. Inevitably word leaks out that this team wants to trade for that guy, but rarely does a team come out as AJ Smith did on Wednesday.

"Ernie (Accorsi) called yesterday about moving up from four to one in the first round," Smith told the AP. "The discussions will remain between us, but it is the first call we've received interested in trading for our pick."

When in the history of the draft has poker been played with the cards face up?

Speculation from the beginning has been the Chargers will attempt to trade down, perhaps twice, to acquire extra picks. What is odd is the game Smith has been playing all offseason.

First, the owner Alex Spanos says no to the quarterbacks. AJ Smith quickly counters by saying he wants to upgrade at quarterback.

The team then seeks out Robert Gallery, the top left tackle and a position of need, for a personal visit.

Then they go see each quarterback in succession. Sean Taylor and Larry Fitzgerald follow by visiting the Murphy Canyon camp.

Now the team has just told the world that the Giants are considering moving up. Does anyone know Ernie Accorsi? He is old school. He likes his deals being made in the backroom of an exclusive club. AJ has just called him out into the light.

When looking at a situation like this the team has to be clear what the motivation is. But are we so clear?

The Chargers clearly want to trade out of the top spot. They clearly want to make it known that they are entertaining offers. They most certainly want every team in the league to know the bidding has begun.

Have they just shot themselves in the foot? How many teams really want to trade up to number one overall with the depth in the draft? Does Cleveland, just to secure Gallery above the Raiders?

In a draft where the talent level is relatively deep, the Chargers might have just made their first boo-boo. The Giants are old fashioned, much like their fans. Give them an espresso and a cigar and the deal is more likely to happen.

Are the Chargers now under an obligation to say "X team has called us" in regards to the number one pick?

Now that AJ Smith has laid it out on the table, what happens when no other teams call?

Do the Giants then say, "We know we are the only ones bidding. Take this or leave it."

Either this was a great hand of poker being played by AJ Smith, or the Chargers, as a franchise, continue to bumble in every course of action.

Notes: The Giants are believed to have spoken to at least one other team ahead of them in the draft -- the Cardinals or Raiders -- as well as at least one team behind them about a potential move down.

Denis Savage can be reached at

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