Chargers' Brees to raise the bar

How does a $6.5 million dollar raise sound? That is what Drew Brees got when he signed the one-year franchise tender the San Diego Chargers presented him with.

Now that Drew Brees has signed on the dotted line, he has to prove he is worth the dough.

After a sluggish start to the 2004 season, Brees led the Chargers to a 12-4 season and its first playoff berth in a decade. While 2004 was the first time in eleven years that the Bolts won the AFC West, Brees believes the Chargers, and himself, can accomplish so much more.

"I feel like I have just scratched the surface and this team just scratched the surface," the quarterback said. "Last year was not good enough."

Brees was selected to the Pro Bowl and named the Associated Press' 2004 Comeback Player of the Year. He completed 262-of-400 passes for 3,159 yards with 27 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

If that wasn't good enough, what will the encore entail and is he up to it with his brand new swollen bank account.

Working in his favor, many starters remain from a year ago and Brees sees that, above all, as a benefit.

That trend continued with the re-signing of safety Jerry Wilson to a two-year deal on Friday. The whole offensive line will be back and they will not be losing anyone of significance on offense.

"It is vital," Brees said of keeping the core together. "Continuity is huge, especially when you take what we did last year into this year. You want to keep that foundation and build on top of that. We are not here to rebuild."

A tough schedule is on the docket but many said the 2004 schedule was ripe with pitfalls. It turned out the Chargers were the pitfall for other teams.

The team will play seven games against playoff opponents, including Denver twice. In 2004, they were just 1-5 against teams that went to the postseason, including the loss to the New York Jets in the playoffs.

Now that Brees has commanded a hefty raise, he will have to prove the detractors wrong. He must stake the claim that he is not a one-year wonder.

"There is always someone who thinks you can't do it and thinks it was a one year thing," Brees chuckled.

Pressed into the franchise deal with no talk of a multi-year extension in sight is fine with Brees.

"I don't worry about (why I got just a one year deal)," he added. "The fact is I want to be here. I want to be a San Diego Charger. I would love to be a San Diego Charger for my whole career so of course I want that long-term deal. I wouldn't want to be any other place.

"(Loyalty) is important. The main thing is I wanted to be here. I wanted to be a part of this. I think we can do something special.

"The jump that we made was huge and we would like to make another jump this year."

Riding on his $8 million dollar arm will be the expectations of another playoff berth and hopefully a Championship.

Lightning Quicks:

Allen Rossum indeed left town without a contract and is scheduled to meet with one more team before making a decision. There is still a firm indication from those close to the situation that he will sign with San Diego.

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