Chargers next decision no Brees

The San Diego Chargers completed a dream season – even with a loss in the first round of the playoffs. Now the decision makers must sit down over the next month and determine the future of the franchise, and more specifically what they will do with quarterback Drew Brees.

The contract situation of Drew Brees is as follows:

He doesn't have one and is an unrestricted free agent, meaning he can sign anywhere.

The Chargers, however, still hold a chip. They can designate him as their franchise player. The following describes the rules for designating a franchise player:

  • There are two levels of franchise player designation and a club can designate one franchise player in any given year.

  • The salary level offer by a player's old club determines what type of franchise player he is.

  • An "exclusive" franchise player -- not free to sign with another club -- is offered a minimum of the average of the top five salaries at the player's position as of April 16, or 120 percent of the player's previous year's salary, whichever is greater.

  • If the player is offered a minimum of the average of the top five salaries of last season at his position, or 120 percent of the player's previous year's salary, he becomes a "non-exclusive" franchise player and can negotiate with other clubs. His old club can match a new club's offer, or receive two first-round draft choices if it decides not to match.

  • A club may withdraw a franchise or transition designation at any time. The player becomes an unrestricted free agent when that withdrawal occurs.

  • There are plenty of options to consider. The Chargers are certain to make the first move and franchise Brees but what they do after and what Brees does with the one-year tender remain to be seen.

    Head coach Marty Schottenheimer deftly sidestepped any questions relating to the future of Brees, preferring to keep his silence and meet with the rest of the staff before coming to any decision, and one that won't be made public until it has to.

    "We will talk about all the variables," Schottenheimer said on Monday. "It is something we will sit down and talk about. In due time, all of this will be sorted out."

    Both sides have a vested interest in his future. The Chargers own the first step but are not the sole proprietor of the process. Brees also has a say.

    When asked whether Brees played his last game as a San Diego Charger, he responded by saying, "I hope not, but it is not up to me. We'll see."

    The truth is it may be up to Brees. What if the Chargers offer him a one-year deal as a franchise player and he refuses to sign? Then it certainly is up to Brees and his agent, Tom Condon.

    With Philip Rivers waiting in the wings, the Chargers would seem to be in the enviable position. A.J. Smith is not one to allow the team to be bullied. If Brees decided it was not in his best interests to commit to the franchise offer, Smith would explore trade options a bit more feverishly.

    There is talk of teams like Dallas, Miami, Chicago and Arizona wanting experience at quarterback.

    Dallas has two first round picks this year and Bill Parcells is said to want a quarterback that has experience. Dallas isn't that far away from the playoffs and a hungry quarterback could get them there. His offense is predicated on the short passing game, something Brees happens to be good at. It would seem the ideal fit, if there was one.

    Miami traded for A.J. Feeley, so the talk of Brees going to South Florida is premature. The Dolphins need to secure a running game before anything happens. It is unfair to dismiss Feeley before they get a running back and an offensive line.

    Chicago is interesting. They have a young quarterback in Craig Krenzel but the lure of an established quarterback may bring them into the mix. Thinking they would trade the number four pick in the draft is just silly.

    Arizona had a carousel at quarterback this year and Dennis Green couldn't decide who he wanted in a given week. Green knows Brees from doing commentary on the Chargers the previous three seasons and the Del Mar resident may be enticed by the strong showing Brees had in San Diego this year.

    There may be a market for Brees this offseason and the quarterback situation is one that many would like to see settled. Rivers is still the quarterback that San Diego is enamored with and they are highly unlikely to deal him anytime soon. With rookie quarterbacks proving they can win with talent assembled around them, that stigma that they should sit or the team will suffer through a growing period no longer has the appeal it once had.

    That may open the door for a trade of Brees. The first step is franchising him.

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