Brees eager to begin anew

Roughly two weeks after the Chargers made Drew Brees their franchise player, the quarterback signed the one-year contract on Friday.

After returning from a trip to Australia late Thursday night, Drew Brees signed his one-year franchise tender early on Friday morning, which will pay him $8.078 million for the 2005 season.

"I was ready and eager to make it official," Brees said. "I am ecstatic. The fact that I get to be here another year and build on the foundation we set for ourselves."

The challenges are now in front of Brees, who set career records in touchdowns with 27 and became the first Chargers' quarterback to throw more than twenty touchdown passes and less than ten interceptions.

He must take a team that perhaps overachieved in 2004 and bring consistency to it. An 8-8 season will not do, nor will 9-7.

The excitement in San Diego has reached a fevered pitch and fans are not ready to see the doldrums of misery that was prominent over the previous ten seasons.

"The challenge for us is don't get complacent after a 12-4 season," said Brees. "We need to build on that. Our schedule this year looks to be a bit tougher. We have a lot of playoff teams that we are going up against and it is going to be a huge challenge for us.

"There are so many things I think we can accomplish next year. We are going to have to work very hard to do it. All the pieces are coming together and in place. We have a great shot which is another reason I am happy to be here."

While running through the rest of the NFL presents its own dilemma, Brees will go into training camp with Philip Rivers still on the roster.

The Chargers' first round pick in 2004, Rivers is considered the future and A.J. Smith came as close to calling him untouchable as he ever has revealed when he said he would not trade him.

"In my mind, I am the starting quarterback. It is my team and that is the way it is.

"There is always competition. I am always competing against myself. Each day I approach as how can I make myself better, not how can I beat out the guy next to me."

While trade speculation has run rampant since the end of the season, it appears the Chargers will keep both Brees and Philip Rivers around for the 2005 season.

A.J. Smith pointedly refused to look beyond the 2005 season and that may be the biggest indication of their intent.

Lightning Quicks:

Marty Schottenheimer was honored in Atlantic City, New Jersey on Friday by the Maxwell Football Club. Schottenheimer won the Greasy Neale award as professional coach of the year.

Brees met up with former Charger Darren Bennett while he was on vacation in Australia.

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