Rodney Harrison, a two time Pro Bowler, was the top player on the list. A veteran of nine seasons all with the Chargers, Harrison leaves after a season in which he became a shell of his former self. Having to deal with a new defensive scheme and a one game suspension, he did not respond as was hoped. He could not play the pass defense that the scheme required of him.
After being asked to restructure and declining it was only a matter of time before the inevitable came. Earlier this month General Manager John Butler said, "I've always loved tough, hard-nosed football players," Butler said. "But if they can't get there, it doesn't matter how tough they are." It was a veiled attack at some of his players, including Harrison.
Back in January the signs were clear he would not return when Butler and head coach Marty Schottenheimer would not commit to his return. The writing was on the wall. It should have come as no surprise.
Harrison stated he anticipated the move. "I would have liked to have finished my career in San Diego, being that it's the first and only team that I played with, and the city had embraced me and the fans were great to me. But the National Football League is a cutthroat business, and tough decisions have to be made. I'm disappointed that I'm leaving but excited about the opportunity to start over and, in a sense, begin a new career," Harrison added.
The Chargers also informed cornerback Alex Molden, running back Terrell Fletcher and fullback Fred McCrary that they would be released this week.
Molden, two seasons removed from signing a six year deal, was not the investment the Chargers envisioned. Despite his team leading three interceptions, he often missed coverage assignments and got burned just as often.
Back in January Chargers Update staff tabbed Molden among those who would be cut. Again no surprises here.
Fletcher was perhaps the easiest decision of the group. A guy making $1.8 million with no defined role. He is a backup to LaDainian Tomlinson and even then, not a very good one. He has been with the Chargers since 1995 and last season played in just 10 games amassing 128 yards on 26 carries, most coming in garbage time.
A change of pace runner is no longer needed as the Chargers go with their Pro Bowler as the featured back. Never has Fletcher shown the ability that he could take over if the main runner went down with injury. That is the new direction this team is headed. He is not called upon enough to warrant his salary and with pressing needs in short yardage situations; his days as a Charger come to an end.
McCrary did have a bounce back season this past year and his release may be the only surprise. He helped Tomlinson gain 1,683 yards rushing this season. In May of 2000 he signed a 4 year deal worth $2.95 million with a signing bonus of $400,000. Now he enters the final year of that contract and will make upwards of $725,000.
"He did come into this year with a chip on his shoulders, saying, 'Hey, I'm going to show them that I'm a fullback to be reckoned with and not just some throwaway guy,'" running back LaDainian Tomlinson said.
The team releasing a guy LT swears by is controversial. "I don't understand the move," said McCrary.
Still this offseason features the best fullback market ever in free agency. Chargers Update featured the group back in early January. They can be found via the following link:
Fullbacks on the Market
Still up in the air is the cutting of wide receiver Curtis Conway. He has declined restructuring and it is a matter of time before he too will hit the market as a free agent.
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