If there is one glaring issue that must be corrected from the previous regime under former general manager A.J. Smith, it was his inability to re-sign the team’s best free agents. Those issues cost the San Diego Chargers a number of talented players over the course of the past decade that looking back over the departed talent is quite depressing.
A team with the likes of Drew Brees, Darren Sproles, Michael Turner (in his heyday), and Vincent Jackson would be awfully lethal offensively. Unfortunately those are just the names of former Chargers who have gone on to have extreme success in new cities rather than staying with the organization and becoming cornerstones in San Diego.
Thankfully Smith is no longer the GM for the Bolts with Tom Telesco now running the show and trying to show players that they are actually valued by the franchise. The top priority according to reports right now is getting a long-term extension hammered out with inside linebacker Donald Butler who has been an absolutely beast over the past two seasons. Butler missed his rookie year in 2010 with a torn Achilles tendon but returned to start all 16 games in 2011 and 12 contests a year ago. He is a pillar for the linebacking corps and must be signed to a long-term deal pronto.
This proactive approach by Telesco shows that the organization is no longer willing to let top level talent just walk out the door. The 24 year-old Butler clearly appreciates the organization showing its support of him as he commented on the ongoing negotiations saying:
“I’m not too worried. The numbers will get taken care of between my agent and Telesco. I want to stay in San Diego. I think they want me here in San Diego. I love it here. I love the fans. I love my teammates. I’m confident something will get done. I’m not even worried about it.”
If a team has a player that is vital to the organization, re-signing that guy to keep him in the fold should be paramount to any type of scruples. Head coach Mike McCoy believes that the Bolts need to focus on keeping their homegrown talent around whenever possible as he told U-T San Diego:
“You want to continue to re-sign your own guys whenever you can. As time goes along (and) they perform, we’re going to take care of them and try to keep our guys in-house. That’s the most important thing. Do things the right way here. Players appreciate that, and that’s what we plan on doing as time goes along.”
Trust me when I say that the fans will appreciate that too. After years of watching top flight players sign deals with new teams and experience boatloads of success, it’s about time the Bolts take care of their own stars.
After Butler, a player like Corey Liuget should follow very close behind in getting a long-term deal as he has shown his ability to be dominant in his brief career thus far. Building a nucleus of solid defenders at every level with safety Eric Weddle already locked up for a few more seasons should be a real focus of this new front office. The fans need to know that the Chargers are going to be putting a winner on the field into the future, and keeping key players is vital in that effort.
Hopefully this new era of Chargers football is a harbinger of new business practices as well for the organization. The bottom line is certainly nice, but the team needs to put a winner out their to get fannies in the seats. It’s awesome that this new regime seems to get that.