Chargers pass torch from Flutie to Rivers

Experience for youth and a roster spot became the trade-off when the San Diego Chargers released veteran Doug Flutie on Friday. Rather than enter the year with four quarterbacks on the roster, the Bolts "felt comfortable" with the progress of Philip Rivers and Cleo Lemon.

It wasn't that Doug Flutie was 42 years old on the field, he just happened to be that age off it.

When Doug Flutie was in the huddle, he would spread his charm. Football is a serious business but when he took command it was with a light heart. He was having fun.

"He is a character," tight end Ryan Krause said of his exposure to Flutie in the last game of the regular season. "Other guys are totally serious and he is in there having fun."

It came down to a number of things. The second year of Philip Rivers. The emergence of Cleo Lemon. Drew Brees coming out of his shell. Another precious roster spot.

Beyond that, it came down to need. The need for Rivers to be elevated to the number two slot behind Brees. Rivers, the $40 million dollar man, had to be put in position entering year two. They had to justify the pick in some way.

And Flutie would have been sitting at number three. Given his competitive nature, it wasn't something that would sit well. Sure he would have taken it in stride but as the days get longer – he wanted to have a chance or move on to the CFL where his legend still grows.

"He is fine with not being a starter at this point but to be a number two that is huge for Doug," general manager A.J. Smith concurred.

Now he will get the opportunity to pursue a situation that is more enviable – or even end up on television.

"He still has some pretty good skills for a guy who will be 43 and is 5-9 and a half," Smith said.

The real question is why it took so long to make the move. Were they waiting to see if Brett Favre would return? Perhaps it is no coincidence that Favre agreed to return to the Green Bay Packers just a day before the release of Flutie.

Could it be the Chargers had held out hope that Favre would retire and they could settle their quarterback quandary this year? The signs point to yes even if the words of the organization don't.

There are benefits to be seen on the Chargers roster. According to the Smith, the move helps Lemon most of all.

"It helps Cleo first," said Smith. "He sees, ‘wow, I have been hanging around here and working my tail off. I have been in the system and things are starting to unfold for me.'"

And for Rivers, it puts the first rounder one step away from money time.

"That means you are one snap away from going into a football game and relieving the starter and protecting the football team," Smith noted.

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