Three to Watch: Contract-year Players

Although the Chargers have been proactive in locking up their own players before they hit the open market, there are three core contributors set to be unrestricted free agents after the 2008 season. Samantha Fillerup takes a closer look at each of these players, explaining what to expect this season and projecting whether they'll be back in 2009.

1.DE Igor Olshansky

Olshansky is one of the strongest players in the NFL and his unrelenting attitude is both an inspiration to his teammates and a deterrent to his opponents. In three of the four seasons he has been with the Chargers, they have been ranked in the league's top-seven for rushing defense. In 2007, he posted career-highs with 49 tackles, 3.5 sacks and his first interception.

Olshansky is a stout run defender who often forces offensive linemen into the backfield. He plays with tremendous leverage and, although his numbers are not eye-popping, the difference he makes in the trenches is unmistakable.

Olshansky's efforts to land a new deal should be aided by the recent seven-year extension given to Luis Castillo. Both players have similar values -- Catillo is the better pass-rusher and Olshansky is more dependable -- so Olshansky's camp should be able to use Castillo's deal as a jumping-off point.

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2.OG Mike Goff

Goff enters his 11th year in the League and continues to be a leader on and off the field. He paved the way for a 2,000-yard rushing effort in 2007, which ranked the Bolts seventh in the NFL. He is a fixture on the team, having started all 64 games since arriving in 2004.

Goff will be 33 years old after the season, which means the Chargers are unlikely to re-sign him. Versatile reserve Scott Mruczkowski signed a new three-year deal this off-season and is expected to be Goff's replacement. However, Goff will use this season to prove he deserves to be a starter, be it in San Diego or somewhere else.

3. OLB Marques Harris

Harris originally signed with the Chargers in 2005 as an undrafted free agent out of Southern Utah University. He has since become a top-tier special-teams contributor and a strong pass-rusher off the bench. Harris will compete for playing time with fast-rising Jyles Tucker, and how much field time Harris receives will go a long way towards dictating his market value next off-season.

Harris became a restricted free agent this off-season, when the Chargers showed how much they value him by slapping him with a second-round tender. He later signed a one-year deal, meaning he is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after the season. Although his slight frame (6'1", 245 lbs.) will prevent him from earning starter's money, he will likely merit more than the Chargers are willing to pay, given the team's more pressing financial obligations elsewhere.

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