The Chargers Skinny

So much to filter through. There is talk of trade, of Eli Manning and of other superlatives that don't seem to matter. As of Tuesday morning, the San Diego Chargers still hold the number one pick in the 2004 NFL Draft, but will it last?

We say no.

The signs are all pointing towards a trade.

Why you ask? Classic denial is transpiring across the league and other certain truths have made it a point of no return.

The Redskins have denied interest in the number one pick. That is because they would not mind trading up to number two, but the inherent problem is Cleveland may seek to leapfrog them in order to get Robert Gallery.

The Redskins have talked to teams about trading up in the draft, then selecting left tackle Robert Gallery.

Washington could pay a heavy price to get the Iowa tackle. The Redskins also are playing down such talk of maneuvers, but why would any team do otherwise when it comes to trade talk? Makes no sense for them to acknowledge that they might swap a Pro Bowl tackle (Chris Samuels) to move up. If they fail to make the trade, then you have a hurt or angry player on your hands.

For Cleveland, that hurt player is Dennis Northcutt, although circumstances are vastly different. Northcutt could have been a free agent, had his agent filed the appropriate paperwork on time. Instead he is a malcontent and wants out. He would likely be part of any deal.

Then there is the New York Giants who continue to be in talks with the Chargers. They seek a franchise quarterback named Eli Manning.

The Chargers have been trying to pit teams against each other by going public with select teams contacting them. It is uncertain whether it is having a negative effect as other teams deny their rabid interest in a particular player. They may be infatuated with a certain player, but the exposure AJ Smith is making known will hamper bargaining power, thus the constant denial.

One NFL insider familiar with the negotiations the Chargers are having tells us "the team will trade out of the top pick."

Just a week ago that same source said the team would keep the pick. Oh how times have changed.

One of those is that the team has yet to contact the agents for the top picks. A curious move for a team that expected to start negotiations with the top picks as many as ten days before the draft. One of those reasons, the Chargers claim, is that they are behind in their scouting. Are we to believe an NFL team with the top pick in the 2004 NFL Draft is not prepared, or is it more likely they are not ready because they expect their board to be changed by a trade that nets an extra pick or two?

In the year of the lie, now is the time when we will hear it all. While three teams are known, there could still be a New England Patriots team that sweeps in and steals the show.

It seems just a matter of days, maybe hours, before the Chargers deal out of the pressure cooker known as the first pick in the 2004 draft.

Denis Savage can be reached at safage@cox.net

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