Chargers and Rivers at crossroads

The San Diego Chargers and the agent for Philip Rivers continue to negotiate as the team tries to bring their first round pick to terms. Complicating matters is the deals handed out to the other top five picks, all signed, and Kellen Winslow declining a significant offer from the Cleveland Browns.

Philip Rivers sits on the sidelines as Drew Brees and Cleo Lemon take the reps on the field. With Doug Flutie out, David Binn was seen taking some snaps from center on Monday.

Considering the deal that Arizona wideout Larry Fitzgerald signed, the progress of talks could be stalled even further. Fitzgerald, taken third overall, signed a contract that could be worth as much as $60 million and even Eli Manning netting what could equal $45 million mark a significant starting point and perhaps finishing point for terms.

Ed McGuire was out on the practice field "for five minutes" he said of his respite from his bunker in negotiations.

The talks have definitely not been as fluid as the team would have liked. They were banking on Rivers being receptive to a deal which was more in line for a player selected fourth overall, but with the Chargers owning a salary cap allocation affording them compensation equal to the first overall pick, Rivers and his agents want the North Carolina Sate quarterback to be compensated as such.

"Presently, the Chargers have not offered a package which makes it obvious that Rivers is the top player selected," said a league source familiar with both sides of the negotiations.

Each day that Rivers sits makes his chances of starting more remote. With Drew Brees getting the bulk of the reps, he has become the favorite to begin the season over center. Brees has looked solid during the early stages of camp. He has been quick and decisive in his reads and the ball has left his hand quickly. He has zoned in on receivers but has made the delivery where it needed to be. A few times he has been overanxious, throwing the ball a little high or wide but he seems determined this year to perform. It is the last year of his contract.

Marty Schottenheimer has not gone public but cannot be happy with the pace of contract negotiations. He reiterated after practice how important it is for a player to come to camp, stressing that each missed practice was multiplied due to the different pace from offseason workouts.

"It's important for him to get in here," Schottenheimer simply stated.

The Chargers had hoped with Rivers in camp and performing capably that he would give Brees a run at the starting quarterback position. With Rivers in the huddle to start the season, the thinking was the front office and coach would get a respite if the team did not produce wins on the field.

Depending on when Rivers gets to camp, his chances are becoming increasingly slim of starting. Schottenheimer has expressed that he will name his starter before the last preseason game. That is exactly a month away. Thirty days is not such a long time for a quarterback to make an impression.

This is not a Quentin Jammer case where the participants were only a few hundred thousand of dollars apart. This is much deeper.

"The parties involved are a few million apart on the dollar figure, most other parameters have been agreed upon," the league source said of the progress.

Calls to agent Jimmy Sexton were not returned.

Denis Savage can be reached at

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