From trade block to veteran leader

How would you handle it if you found out that your company is trying to trade you to a competitor. Things don't go as planned and you stay with the company that had plans of moving on sans you - the same company you looked at while growing up thinking how much you would love every day going to work for. Welcome to Donnie Edwards' world and the San Diego Chargers.

Will inside linebacker Donnie Edwards' upbeat, positive, easy-going demeanor change? Doubtful, but the team could get the first hint of his attitude as the off-season coaching sessions begin on Monday.

Edwards is among the clubhouse leaders as he provides the two biggest things NFL teams look for in their players: productivity and durability.

In each of his four seasons with the Chargers, he's led the squad in tackles. And he's never missed a game.

But Chargers fans will have to get used to missing Edwards come next season. He has pleaded with general manager A.J. Smith to structure an extension for his contract, which expires after the 2006 season.

Not only did Smith rebuff Edwards, he plopped him on the training block.

Edwards wasn't moved, though the last card hasn't necessarily been played. Smith didn't take him off the block, and has said Edwards could be sent elsewhere up until the October trading deadline.

"I learned a long time ago to not worry about things you can't control," Edwards said.

Edwards can, he said, control his emotions. And he admits to having to do just that, having grown up in the San Diego region and pulled being a Chargers fan for as long as he can remember.

So he's hopeful of giving them a season they won't forget.

"It's on," he said.

What he won't be on is the Chargers next year. In fact, the Chargers will be looking to replace both their inside linebackers. Indications are Randall Godfrey will retire following the season.

It's fairly evident Edwards will go out the way he has handled himself during his four seasons here -- with class. Still, human nature says it'll take a big man to put aside the disappointment of his looming unwelcome status after giving so much to the team both on and off the field.

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