Chargers have surprised in the past

San Diego Chargesr coach Marty Schottenheimer gives that reassuring smile, that one that says everything will be all right.

But he's in the minority as the Chargers' heartbreaking loss to the Jets is lingering like the black clouds which have circled Southern California the past two weeks.

Maybe Schottenheimer is so at ease because he has been through this drill so often. The latest loss dropped his postseason mark to 5-12 and it was his fifth straight loss in the playoffs.

So he tried to stay upbeat, while those around him wore long faces.

"I'm excited about the prospects for the future," Schottenheimer said. "This has been a great year for our football team. While the disappointment exists here, and I know it lingers until the end of the postseason, we have a lot of things we're looking forward to building on."

Whether that building block includes Pro Bowl quarterback Drew Brees remains to be seen.

Brees, who is becoming an unrestricted free agent, is thought to want to come back. The team, which is $21 million under next season's cap, can afford to pay him the $9 million for a year and let Philip Rivers age once more year.

Or will it?

Time and again Schottenheimer was given a chance to say he thought Brees might be back or that he would like Brees to be back or wouldn't it be grand if the Chargers could figure a way to bring Brees back and on and on.

But somewhat strangely, Schottenheimer never took the bait. He said so much more with what he didn't say, that he did with what coachspeak he spouted.

"In due time, all of this will be sorted out," he said.

Hardly a ringing endorsement. It makes some think Brees isn't coming back, or if he does, the team will sign and trade him.

It's difficult to tell this early in the ball game. But what was clear is that the Chargers are leaving themselves wiggle room if in fact their 2005 roster doesn't included Brees. "I think you are better served taking a little bit of time, and I know (general manager) A. J. (Smith) feels the same way about that," Schottenheimer said. "So that's what we'll do."

The team heads into the offseason in an enviable position. It has no issues with next season's cap and most the roster is young and under contract.

But the big elephant in the room is QB Drew Brees. And the decision the club comes to regarding their free agent quarterback will be the biggest one it makes all offseason.

The smart thinking is he's coming back under the franchise tag for some $9 million. But the Chargers hare surprised before, like when drafting Eli Manning when everyone told them not to.

SD Super Chargers Top Stories