Manumaleuna agrees to new contract

The San Diego Chargers have agreed to terms on a new contract with tight end Brandon Manumaleuna, extending his deal by one year and locking him up through the 2009 season. Manumaleuna joined the Chargers in 2006 and finished his first year in San Diego with 14 receptions for 91 yards and three touchdowns.

Brandon Manumaleuna was acquired from the St. Louis Rams in exchange for a fourth-round pick during last year's draft and responded with the best season of his professional career. In addition to his receiving stats, Manumaleuna made significant contributions as a blocker.

In the running game, he often lined up next to Marcus McNeill, serving as an extra offensive tackle and giving the Chargers the most dominant left side in football. In pass protection, he usually aligned in the backfield and excelled at picking up blitzing linebackers and keeping his quarterback upright.

It has been rumored that Manumaleuna's breakout season was a direct result of a return to his home state of California.

"Brandon was never happy in St. Louis; he's a California kid," said one Rams coach. "As soon as he moved back home, everything came together for him."

Manumaleuna's best game came in a week 10 contest against the Cincinnati Bengals, during which he caught two touchdown passes, including the game-winner with under three minutes to play.

The new contract means less opportunity for fourth-round pick Scott Chandler to compete for the No. 2 spot anytime soon. It was assumed that Chandler would be promoted once Manumaleuna's contract expired.

Manumaleuna's original contract ran through the 2008 season. He was to earn $1.475 million this season and $1.525 the following year. Terms of the new pact have yet to be released.

Counting Manumaleuna, the Chargers have 28 players under contract through at least the 2009 season.

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