AFC West: San Diego Chargers

PHOENIX -- Fans of the San Diego Chargers may have some uncertainty as to where the team will play in 2016, but at least they can be assured every game will be on television locally for the upcoming season.

NFL owners approved suspension of the local blackout policy for the preseason and regular season in 2015. No NFL games were blacked out last season.

The league's finance and broadcast committee made the proposal to suspend the rule.

The league expects to evaluate the move after the season.

The Chargers had been affected by the blackout rule in years past due to sagging attendance. Five home games combined were blacked out locally in the 2012 and 2013 seasons.

However, in September 2014 the Federal Communications Commission unanimously removed its sports blackout rule. Under the 40-year-old policy, satellite providers and cable companies were not allowed to bring an out-of-town signal to a local market where a game had been blacked out, enforcing the league rule that prevented TV broadcasts from showing games when the home team did not sell out a contest 72 hours before kickoff.

SAN DIEGO – We are heading into second wave of free agency, which means that teams are looking to add depth and role players to bolster their roster before the draft in a little over a month.

So now is a good time to assess where the San Diego Chargers stand in terms of the team’s roster, with the team’s offseason program set to begin at the end of Aprill.

As expected, the Chargers were not major players in free agency. However, general manager Tom Telesco quietly went about his business, filling holes at obvious areas of need. Running back and edge rusher are two positions the Chargers appear ready to address in this year’s draft, where there is a deep pool of talent at each position.


Quarterback: There’s been lot of talk about the future of Philip Rivers, but I don’t see the franchise letting him go either through trade or free agency. At 33 years old, Rivers gives San Diego the best chance to reach the playoffs. He’s durable, accountable and a great leader in the locker room. Rivers is basically the reason Mike McCoy took the head coach job in San Diego. That said, the Chargers could look to the draft for a developmental quarterback this year.

Running back: San Diego’s leading rusher last season, Branden Oliver, is penciled in as the starter right now, with Danny Woodhead serving as the change-of-pace back and Donald Brown as the backup. At 5-foot-8 and 208 pounds, Oliver does not project as an every-down back, but Justin Forsett is basically the same size and ran for more than 1,000 yards with the Baltimore Ravens last season. So perhaps Oliver can hold up as San Diego’s workhorse running back.

Split end: Malcom Floyd played 16 games for just the second time in his 10-year career last season. He proved he can still stretch the field, averaging 16.5 yards per catch last year. But Floyd turns 34 in September, and the Chargers need to figure out a succession plan.

[+] EnlargeKeenan Allen
Evan Habeeb/USA TODAY SportsChargers wide receiver Keenan Allen should benefit from the signing of Stevie Johnson in free agency.

Flanker: While some considered 2014 as a sophomore slump, I thought Keenan Allen put up solid numbers again in his second season. And with Eddie Royal gone, we might see the former Cal standout in the slot more in 2015, which should translate into more targets and explosive plays. The addition of Stevie Johnson also will give the Chargers more flexibility to move Allen around.

Tight end: The ageless Antonio Gates did not show any signs of slowing down in 2014, but he can’t play like this forever, right?

Second tight end: Yes, I’m betting we finally see the emergence of Ladarius Green in 2015.

Left tackle: If he stays healthy, King Dunlap should finally start to get some recognition as one of the better left tackles in the NFL.

Left guard: Orlando Franklin should become the tone-setter for what could be one of the more physical offensive lines in the league.

Center: Chris Watt is penciled in for now, but he will get some competition from Trevor Robinson, who played better than expected when he got a chance during the second half of last year.

Right guard: Johnnie Troutman is the guy for now, but he’ll likely receive some competition. He’s an effective run-blocker who can improve in pass protection.

Right tackle: D.J. Fluker struggled at times with elite speed rushers in 2014, but is working to lose weight and, when healthy, can get the job done here.


Defensive end: Corey Liuget led the team in sacks for a second straight year, but needs to be dominant every week for the defensive line to play up to its potential.

Defensive tackle: I’ll go with Sean Lissemore for now, but he’ll be pushed by second-year pro Ryan Carrethers.

Defensive end: If given the opportunity, I believe Ricardo Mathews could win this job over Kendall Reyes. The competition should make both better.

Outside linebacker: Melvin Ingram takes over as the run-stuffing linebacker for Jarrett Johnson. Like Liuget, Ingram has to play up to his potential each week and stay healthy.

Outside linebacker: Jeremiah Attaochu fills in for the departed Dwight Freeney, and will be expected to generate a consistent pass rush. Attaochu has the talent, but has to stay healthy and produce each week.

Inside linebacker: While some considered Donald Butler’s 2014 season a disappointment, defensive coordinator John Pagano said the former University of Washington standout was improving before he suffered a dislocated elbow against Denver, ending his season. Butler has to pick up where he left off.

Inside linebacker: Manti Te’o elevated his play in 2014, but still had injury issues. It would be nice to see the former Notre Dame standout play a full, 16-game season for the first time in his professional career.

Left cornerback: Getting Brandon Flowers back in free agency is big. And now he’ll get a full offseason with the Chargers to make sure he’s healthy going into the regular season.

Right cornerback: As with Flowers, a healthy Jason Verrett is critical to San Diego’s success on defense in 2015. He needs the reps during offseason work in order to get comfortable and improve his play heading into training camp.

Free safety: At 30 years old, Eric Weddle remains one of the best safeties in the game. But Weddle wants his contract extended sooner rather than later.

Strong safety: Jahleel Addae will get an opportunity to earn the starting job, but he will be pushed by Jimmy Wilson.

SAN DIEGO – Defensively, the San Diego Chargers have managed just 18 interceptions the past two seasons, tied for second-worst in the NFL over that time frame.

The addition of cornerback Patrick Robinson, who signed a one-year, $2 million deal to join the Chargers, should change that.

At 5-foot-11 and 191 pounds, the first-round selection by the New Orleans Saints in the 2010 draft has nine career interceptions and 46 pass breakups in five seasons. So making plays on the ball has not been an issue for Robinson.

The former Florida State standout essentially replaces Shareece Wright, who signed a one-year deal with the San Francisco 49ers. Wright managed just one interception in four seasons with the Chargers.

However, while Robinson has flashed the ability to find the football, he’s also struggled at times with being assignment-correct, something that will likely be a point of emphasis for Chargers defensive backs coach Ron Milus.

Robinson eventually settled in as a slot defender for the Saints. With Jason Verrett and Brandon Flowers penciled in as San Diego’s starting cornerbacks, Robinson likely will compete for the slot-defender role with the Chargers. According to Pro Football Focus, Robinson limited opposing quarterbacks to a 57.5 rating, fifth-best among cornerbacks who played at least 25 percent of their snaps as a slot defender last season.

Robinson also provides experienced insurance should Verrett and Flowers experience injury issues again in 2015.

Dean Spanos Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports

Majority owners: Alex Spanos, 91; Faye Spanos

Minority owners: Dean Spanos (pictured); Dea Spanos Berberian; Alexis Spanos Ruhl; Michael Spanos; George Pernicano; Bill Fox

Source of wealth: Real estate (A. G. Spanos Companies built 120,000 apartments in 19 states in six decades)

Net worth: $1.3 billion (Forbes)

Residence: Stockton, California

Marital status: Married

Family: Wife, Faye; sons, Dean and Michael; daughters, Dea and Alexis

Education: University of the Pacific

When purchased team and for how much: In 1984, Alex Spanos purchased 60 percent of the team from Eugene Klein for $70 million. Over the next decade, he bought out shares of several minority owners, and his family now owns 97 percent of the Chargers.

Franchise valuation: $995 million (Forbes)

2014 revenue/rank: $262 million/25th (Forbes)

Owns stadium: No

Ownership philosophy: The family-run operation was built with a focus on a strong work ethic and a desire to be the best.

Defining moment in ownership tenure: The Chargers lifted up the Lamar Hunt Trophy as AFC champions after a surprising road win over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Three Rivers Stadium on Jan. 15, 1995. The Chargers were nine-point underdogs, but the win proved Spanos could put together a team that could reach the Super Bowl.

Regular/postseason wins-losses during tenure: 247-254/7-9

General managers during tenure: Johnny Sanders (1976-86), Steve Ortmayer (1987-89), Bobby Beathard (1990-2000), John Butler (2001-02), A.J. Smith (2003-2012), Tom Telesco (2013-present)

Coaches during tenure: Don Coryell (1978-86), Al Saunders (1986-88), Dan Henning (1989-1991), Bobby Ross (1992-96), Kevin Gilbride (1997-98), June Jones (1998), Mike Riley (1999-2001), Marty Schottenheimer (2002-06), Norv Turner (2007-12), Mike McCoy (2013-present)

Playoff appearances: 1992, 1994, 1995, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2013

Super Bowl appearances/championships: Lost to 49ers 49-26 in Super Bowl XXIX (1994 season)

NFL committees: Dean Spanos: business ventures (chair), international, legislative, management council executive committee

SAN DIEGO -- In need of a productive receiver, the San Diego Chargers added a big name, reaching a three-year agreement with former San Francisco 49er Stevie Johnson, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Johnson visited the Chargers over the weekend. However, he left town without a contract, and ultimately visited the New England Patriots on Monday before settling on a deal with San Diego.

[+] EnlargeStevie Johnson
Cary Edmondson/USA TODAY SportsA Bay Area native, seven-year veteran Stevie Johnson had a down year in his only season with the 49ers in 2014.

The Chargers lost dependable slot receiver Eddie Royal to the Chicago Bears in free agency, with the Virginia Tech product signing a three-year, $15 million deal -- including $10 million in guaranteed money -- to join the Bears.

Royal was a favorite target of quarterback Philip Rivers. He finished with a team-high 22 catches on third downs last season. He totaled 109 receptions for 1,409 yards and 15 touchdowns his last two seasons in San Diego, averaging 13 yards a catch.

The Chargers are banking on getting similar production from Johnson. It will be important for Johnson to come into San Diego's offseason program at the end of April healthy, using those reps during organized team activities to establish a rapport with Rivers.

At 6-foot-2 and 207 pounds, Johnson, 28, is a big receiver who wins contested catches, fitting the profile of a receiver who works well with Rivers.

A Bay Area native, Johnson had a down year in his only season with the 49ers, finishing with 35 receptions for 435 yards and three touchdowns. He missed three games because of a knee injury.

Johnson was released by San Francisco after reportedly refusing to take a pay cut. Johnson was scheduled to make a little over $6 million in 2014.

However, Johnson developed into a dominant receiver his first six seasons in Buffalo, with three 1,000-yard seasons from 2010 to 2012. Johnson is versatile, with the ability to play on the perimeter or in the slot.

In San Francisco last year, 84 of Johnson’s 269 snaps came from the slot, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The year before that in Buffalo, Johnson finished with a career-high 449 snaps from the slot.

With the addition of Johnson, the Chargers have eight receivers on the 90-man roster -- Keenan Allen, Malcom Floyd, Jacoby Jones, Dontrelle Inman, Austin Pettis, Javontee Herndon and Torrence Allen.

Johnson has worn the same No. 13 as Allen, so some type of agreement will have to be reached between the two receivers.

SAN DIEGO – Recently released San Francisco 49ers receiver Stevie Johnson visited the San Diego Chargers on Friday, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Johnson reportedly left town without agreeing to a deal.

In need of an experienced playmaker at receiver, the 28-year-old Johnson, at 6-foot-2 and 207 pounds, would be a good fit with Philip Rivers and the rest of San Diego’s offense.

A San Francisco native, Johnson had a down year in his only season with the 49ers, finishing with 35 receptions for 435 yards and three touchdowns. He missed three games because of a knee injury.

Johnson was released by San Francisco on Wednesday after reportedly refusing to take a pay cut. Johnson was scheduled to make a little over $6 million in 2014.

However, Johnson developed into a dominant receiver his first six seasons in Buffalo with three 1,000-yard seasons from 2010 to 2012. Johnson is versatile, with the ability to play on the perimeter or in the slot.

As a big receiver who wins contested catches, Johnson fits the profile of a receiver who works well with Rivers. Other teams reportedly interested in Johnson include New England and Cleveland.

The Chargers lost Eddie Royal to Chicago and reportedly lost out on Andre Johnson to Indianapolis, so securing a quality receiver such as Johnson is important.
SAN DIEGO – When healthy, Ryan Mathews proved a capable workhorse running back who could provide the balance the San Diego Chargers needed to a passing attack led by quarterback Philip Rivers.

Mathews ran for more than 4,000 yards and averaged 4.5 yards per carry during his five years in San Diego. He ran fast and physical on the field, and although sometimes short and standoffish with reporters, Mathews was well-liked and respected by his teammates.

The problem with Mathews is the Chargers could not make a long-term commitment to him as the team’s every-down back because of his tendency for spending more time in the training room than on the practice field.

“Ryan is a talented football player and as everyone can probably see, we're a different team with him on the field, with his speed and physicality and his talent level,” Chargers general manager Tom Telesco said.

What Telesco left out is Mathews could not stay on the field for any length of time for the Chargers.

In 2013, Mathews finished with a career-best 1,255 yards on a career-high 285 rushing attempts, averaging 4.4 yards per carry. He rushed for more than 100 yards six times, second to Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy. The Chargers finished 5-1 in those games.

The former Fresno State standout played a full, 16-game season for the first time in 2013. But because of a severely sprained ankle suffered against the Oakland Raiders toward the end of the 2013 season, Mathews was ineffective in the playoffs, rushing for a total of 78 yards in two games against Cincinnati and Denver.

Mathews wanted to take it a step further in 2014. However, ankle and knee injuries limited Mathews to six games last season, as he finished with just 330 yards and three touchdowns.

Believing they have enough talent to make another deep playoff run, the Chargers could no longer pin their postseason hopes on whether Mathews would be healthy enough to play. And with a deep pool of running backs available in this year’s draft, Telesco appears ready to invest in another young back to serve as the workhorse of San Diego’s offense.

Signing with Philadelphia gives Mathews a chance for a fresh start in a new environment, where he can again prove he’s a top-10, every-down back in the NFL.
SAN DIEGO -- The nine-member, citizens' stadium advisory group appointed by San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer appears to have settled on a location for a new stadium for the San Diego Chargers.

Even with a late push for the team's preferred downtown location, I can confirm a report by Jeff Dotseth of Xtra 1360 Fox Sports Radio that the group has picked the Mission Valley site, current home of Qualcomm Stadium, and is expected to make that announcement on Thursday.

During a public forum held at Qualcomm last week, Chargers' fans overwhelmingly supported building a new stadium at the Mission Valley site.

The Mission Valley site recently emerged as the mayor's office's preferred alternative because of escalating real estate prices and the threat of legal action at the downtown site, along with potential complications in relocating a bus yard's property, which would serve as part of a parcel of land holding a stadium built downtown

Also, longtime season-ticket holders remain leery of giving up tailgating in the immense parking lot at Qualcomm Stadium.

Although the Chargers preferred the downtown location, Mark Fabiani, point person for the team on the stadium issue, has maintained they will remain supportive and work with the advisory group on whatever site they select.

Now that the group has selected a site location, they can turn all of their attention overcoming another major hurdle -- finding a finance plan that makes sense before a May 20 deadline for their recommendation due to the mayor.
SAN DIEGO -- Looking to upgrade the offensive line, the San Diego Chargers appear to have found help on the free-agent market.

According to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, the Chargers have a deal in place with Denver Broncos pending unrestricted free agent Orlando Franklin that will pay him close to $36.5 million over five years, including $20 million in guaranteed money.

Players can't agree to deals now with another team, but numbers can be exchanged. Players cannot sign with a new team until free agency begins on Tuesday.

The University of Miami product started at left guard for the Broncos last season, but played his first three seasons at right tackle. Chargers offensive line coach Joe D'Alessandris likes his linemen to be versatile, and he'll have to figure out where best to use Franklin's skill set on San Diego's front five.

Franklin also has shown durability, missing just one start in four seasons with the Broncos. Chargers head coach Mike McCoy is familiar with Franklin, having served as Denver's offensive coordinator from 2010 to 2012.

General manager Tom Telesco has been active so far in free agency in addressing his team's needs. Telesco brought back two important players in re-signing left tackle King Dunlap and cornerback Brandon Flowers to four-year deals. And San Diego added a return specialist by signing Jacoby Jones to a two-year deal.

Now, the Chargers appear to have addressed a need on the offensive line with the potential addition of Franklin.
SAN DIEGO -- Four games.

That’s how many combined starts the San Diego Chargers' youthful cornerback group had before the team agreed to terms Sunday with veteran defensive back Brandon Flowers on a four-year deal, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

Last year’s first-round draft choice, Jason Verrett, started four games at cornerback his rookie season before a labrum tear in his shoulder cut short his 2014 season. San Diego’s other starting corner from last year, Shareece Wright, is expected to hit the market as an unrestricted free agent on Tuesday, and there’s no certainty the USC product returns to the team.

So bringing back Flowers was important for the Chargers. He proved a great fit in the locker room, providing leadership during the practice week and an intense presence on the field on game days that led to more consistent play on the back end of San Diego’s defense. And Flowers was productive, leading San Diego in interceptions (three) and pass break-ups (11).

“I would love to have ‘Big Bro’ back,” Verrett said Saturday before the news of Flowers’ deal on Sunday. “If he’s back, we can definitely do some things.”

With the return of Flowers, the Chargers have one of the best cornerback tandems in the AFC West, which is important if San Diego wants to unseat Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, the defending division champs.

Early in free agency, Chargers general manager Tom Telesco has done a nice job taking care of his own players, signing left tackle King Dunlap to a four-year, $28 million contract before inking Flowers to his deal, which could be worth as much as $36 million.

Now, Telesco can turn his attention to filling other needs on San Diego’s roster, including much-needed upgrades at offensive line, pass-rusher, receiver and running back.

And unlike his first two years with the team, Telesco has some salary-cap space available to address team needs. Before the signing of receiver Jacoby Jones and the release of linebacker Reggie Walker, the Chargers had a little more than $23 million in projected salary-cap space -- which gives Telesco a chance to make another splash or two once free agency begins on Tuesday.
SAN DIEGO – In an appearance Thursday on the NFL Network, pending unrestricted free agent Brandon Flowers said he’s in discussions with the San Diego Chargers and wants to remain with his current team.

Check out the video here.

“We’re in negotiations right now, and hopefully we can get something done,” Flowers said. “But free agency is right around the corner. We’ll see how that all plays out. Business is business, but I would love to stay in San Diego.”

Asked if it’s stressful or enjoyable wondering if he will test the free-agent market or return to San Diego, Flowers had this to say.

“To me it’s very enjoyable because if I stay in San Diego, it’s a place I loved stepping in from Day 1,” he said. “It’s a nice place to live, and with a quarterback like Philip Rivers, you always have a chance. And if I’m not able to go back, I’m going to the free agency market.”

Chargers general manager Tom Telesco basically echoed Flowers’ comments in a recent radio interview.

“We’ve been in communication with his agent and with Brandon,” Chargers general manager Tom Telesco told XTRA 1360 Fox Sports radio last week. “And we’ll see where it goes with them.”

The Chargers need to find a way to keep Flowers in the fold. The 29-year-old will certainly attract interest on the open market, with teams such as the Baltimore Ravens and the New York Jets in need of cornerback help.

Saturday is the beginning of a three-day window for pending unrestricted free agents to enter contract negotiations with other teams. At that point, Flowers can establish his value on the open market and the Chargers can figure out if they want to match.
In need of an every-down running back, should they let Ryan Mathews go in free agency, the San Diego Chargers picked a good year to find one in this year’s draft.

“You can get those guys pretty much at any point in the draft that you want because there’s such great depth this year at the running back position,” ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said, “Every year you can find them. You can get a guy like Javorius 'Buck' Allen from USC in the third or fourth round. I think even a T.J. Yeldon from Alabama drops down into the fifth or sixth round. Terrell Watson of Azusa Pacific will be a nice, late-round pick, as will Cameron Artis-Payne from Auburn. Mike Davis of South Carolina might be a late-round pick. So you can find running backs.”

Among those players suggested by Kiper, the Chargers need to find a workhorse thumper who can grind out yards between the tackles. Here are a handful of options the Chargers could be targeting in this year’s draft.

Click here for an updated list of all the measurables for the running back draft prospects.

Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin: At 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds, Gordon is deservedly considered the top running back prospect in this year’s draft. He put up video-game numbers in his final season at Wisconsin, rushing for an NCAA-record 408 yards against Nebraska, finishing with 4,915 rushing yards and averaging 7.8 yards per carry during his career with the Badgers. Gordon backed up those numbers with a solid workout at the scouting combine. You’d like to see a little more top-end speed, but a 4.52-second time in the 40-yard dash is fast enough. The only question about Gordon is his pass-catching and pass-protection ability on third down. Gordon is a true home run threat who could serve as an every-down back for the Chargers.

Jay Ajayi, Boise State: The Texas native finished with 3,796 rushing yards and 55 total touchdowns during his career for the Broncos, averaging 5.6 yards per carry. A tough, between-the-tackles runner, Ajayi compares himself to Marshawn Lynch because of his willingness to fight for every yard. At 6-foot and 221 pounds, Ajayi ran a 4.57-second time in the 40-yard dash and posted a 39-inch vertical jump. He’s also a good receiver, finishing with 50 receptions for 535 yards in his final season at Boise State.

Tevin Coleman, Indiana: At 5-11 and 206 pounds, Coleman rushed for a school-record 2,036 yards and 15 touchdowns, averaging 7.5 yards per carry. Half of Coleman’s 28 career touchdowns gained 40-plus yards. Coleman also showed toughness, playing half of the season with a broken toe. He did not participate in on-field workouts at the scouting combine because of the injury, but pushed up 225 pounds 25 times on the bench press. Coleman is a one-cut, downhill runner with outstanding burst once he gets to the second level of the defense.

Duke Johnson, Miami: At 5-9 and 207 pounds, Johnson is electric when he gets into the open field. He finished with 1,652 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns in his final season at Miami, averaging 6.8 yards per carry. Johnson also caught 38 passes for 421 yards and three receiving touchdowns in 2014. Johnson’s 4.54 in the 40 was a bit disappointing, considering how fast he plays on film. But his production, vision and ability to make defenders miss clearly translates to the next level.

Buck Allen, USC: At 6-foot and 221 pounds, Allen is physical enough to serve as a workhorse running back in the NFL. And he’s fast enough, running a 4.53 in the 40 at the combine -- good speed for his size. Allen finished with 1,489 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns in his final season with the Trojans. He also totaled 41 receptions for 458 yards and a receiving touchdown, so he can contribute in the passing game. Allen has good feet and short-area quickness for a bigger back.

David Johnson, Northern Iowa: At 6-1 and 224 pounds, Johnson is an easy strider with good, long speed once he reaches the open field. Johnson ran the 40 in 4.50 seconds at the scouting combine, so the speed is there. He finished with 1,553 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns in his final season at Northern Iowa, so the production is there. Johnson also totaled 38 receptions for 536 yards and two receiving touchdowns, so he has some ability as a third-down back as well. Johnson could be a mid-to-late-round sleeper for the Chargers if they are looking for running back depth later in the draft.
Darren Smith of The Mighty 1090 talked with San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers about his mentorship of draft prospect quarterback Marcus Mariota, the re-signing of left tackle King Dunlap and the team's efforts to get a stadium deal done here in San Diego.

You can listen to the full interview here.

[+] EnlargePhillip Rivers
AP Photo/Ed ZurgaQB Philip Rivers says he's not too worried about a proposed new stadium for the Chargers quite yet.
Smith asked Rivers about his thoughts about potentially playing in Los Angeles, with the Chargers proposing to build a stadium in collaboration with the Oakland Raiders in Carson, California.

"I think it's just so far," Rivers said. "And I say this with all respect, because I know there's a lot of people putting in a lot of hard work to try and make it happen, but I think it's just a lot of noise at this point.

"Nothing has been decided. There's no clear-cut anything. So I think to get too caught up into it and too riled up would just not be smart. I am paying attention. You knew it was going to come at some point. It's been talked about for the whole time I've been here. And it looks like it is, whether it comes to the end of this year or not -- and whether we get a solution here in San Diego or we move up the road.

"I think it's closer now than it's ever been, and I know I'm stating what's been said a million times. I'm not so wrapped up into it that I'm worried about it."

Rivers was asked how much of an impact the future location of his team would have on negotiating a contract extension with the Chargers. Rivers heads into the final year of a deal that will pay him $15.75 million in base salary in 2015, counting more than $17 million against the salary cap. Chargers general manager Tom Telesco said earlier this year he wants Rivers to be a Charger for life. The two sides have yet to have discussions about restructuring Rivers' contract.

"Is the location of this team going to be a deciding factor? I can't honestly tell you that it will be," Rivers said. "Is it a factor at all? Sure, but I can't tell you that it's at the top of the list, because it's just really not. That goes without saying I hope we're staying. But should we move, it doesn't move to the top of my list for deterrents for not being a Charger."

Rivers also talked about his work with Mariota, who trained with quarterback guru Kevin O'Connell at Prolific Athletes in nearby Carlsbad, California.

"I can't take credit for anything he's done, or how well he's going to do," Rivers said. "But I did go up there a few days and watch him throw, and watch him do some things. I sat in the meeting room a couple days, and it was fun.

"I enjoy it. With this young wave of quarterbacks and you're kind of one of the older guys, I feel like it's something good for us, to give back a little bit and be around a young guy like that. I was impressed. He's an impressive guy."

O'Connell was recently hired as the new Cleveland Browns quarterbacks coach.

Rivers also commented on the Chargers re-signing Dunlap to a four-year, $28 million deal before the left tackle hit free agency in March.

"I thought that was huge," Rivers said. "For what it's worth, in my mind the first thing that had to be done this offseason was signing King Dunlap. So I was super pumped. It can sound somewhat selfish, but it's also serving our team. Certainly, from my standpoint it's nice to know your left tackle's back, but it obviously helps our team. That was the first thing in my mind was get King back."
It’s hard to evaluate offensive line prospects without pads on. You want to see how guys finish blocks and move in their pads next to their peers. But the scouting combine provides the next-best thing – a series of measured workouts and agility drills that NFL scouts can use in an apples-to-apples comparison of the offensive line draft prospects.

Here are some players whom the San Diego Chargers could have their eyes on, and how they performed on Friday. Of note, Chargers offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris was on the field helping to run the workouts for the offensive line prospects.

Click here for an updated list of all the measurables for the offensive line draft prospects.

La'el Collins, LSU: Collins had one of the best performances in the offensive line drills among the top prospects at the combine. At 6-foot-4 and 305 pounds, Collins ran a 5.12-second 40-yard dash and showed good athleticism. Paired with his impressive performance on tape playing in the SEC, Collins is a likely first-round selection. He has versatility, with the ability to play guard or tackle. The Chargers reportedly met with Collins at the combine.

Jake Fisher, Oregon: Fisher showed more athleticism than draft analysts expected, running a 5.01-second 40-yard dash. At 6-6 and 306 pounds, he played right tackle most of his career for the Ducks, but moved to left tackle last season and performed well. Fisher also looked good in the offensive line drills and would be a fit in a zone-blocking scheme, which the Chargers run at times.

Ereck Flowers, Miami: Flowers is a big dude, measuring in at 6-6 and 229 pounds. Even with long arms (34.5 inches), Flowers showed good strength, bench-pressing 225 pounds 37 times, the most for an offensive lineman. At that size, he still moved well in the agility drills and posted a 5.31-second 40-yard dash. Flowers said he will not hire an agent and will likely hire an attorney to look over his contract.

D.J. Humphries, Florida: He reportedly played at 285 pounds in his final season in college, but measured in at 6-5 and 307 pounds at the combine. At that weight, Humphries showed good athleticism for an offensive lineman, running a 5.12-second 40-yard time and posting a 4.64-second short shuttle. His measurables compared to Green Bay Packers right tackle Bryan Bulaga.

Andrus Peat, Stanford: At 6-7 and 313 pounds, Peat has a heavy lower body. But he moved well for his size, running a 5.18-second 40-yard dash and posted an 8-foot, 9-inch broad jump. Peat is 21 years old, so there’s room for him to grow. But one concern was how much effort it took for him to keep up with other offensive line prospects in the agility drills. He appeared to tire toward the end of the workout.

Brandon Scherff, Iowa: An athletic freak, Scherff played quarterback as a sophomore in high school and threw for 1,200 yards. He threw a fastball 85 mph in high school and also played tennis. At 6-5 and 319 pounds, Scherff ran a 5.05-second 40-yard dash. Mike Mayock of the NFL Network compared Scherff to Dallas Cowboys offensive guard Zack Martin. Scherff likely will be selected in the top half of the first round and probably will not be around when the Chargers select at No. 17. Scherff is a better athlete than other offensive linemen to come out of Iowa, like Bulaga and Riley Reiff. Scherff suffered a hamstring injury and could not complete the offensive line drills, so his pro day will be even more important.
Mark Fabiani, point person for the San Diego Chargers' stadium issue, said the organization had its eye on land in Carson, California, for a new stadium proposal for some time, but things heated up in January after St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke announced plans to build an NFL stadium in nearby Inglewood.

"It really ramped up in early January when Stan Kroenke made his move," Fabiani said Thursday. "Obviously, this is a site that's been well-known to the NFL. This was the site in the late 1990s that was the Los Angeles choice for the supposed expansion team that ended up going to Houston. And then subsequent to that, the league has tried to buy the site three separate times. So it's a well-known site.

"The league has always liked it because it's approximate to the Westside of L.A. and it's approximate to Orange County. So it's kind of in the sweet spot of where you want to be in Los Angeles in terms of ticket buyers."

So why did the Chargers announce the proposal for a new stadium in Los Angeles now?

[+] EnlargeQualcomm Stadium
AP Photo/Gregory BullThe Chargers ramped up their Los Angeles plans when Rams owner Stan Kroenkie announced plans to build a stadium in Inglewood.
"We really thought that we would have another year of relatively quiet work in San Diego," Fabiani said. "We announced in December that we would not be relocating, and we did not think any other team would be making the move before we were. Obviously, we were proved wrong with Kroenke's actions in January. And so things really ramped up with us and the land in January, and really within the last couple weeks with the Raiders."

Fabiani said although the Chargers and the Oakland Raiders are rivals on the field, the owners and the front offices of the two organizations have had a good relationship off of it. Chargers owner Alex Spanos was brought into the NFL by legendary Raiders owner Al Davis.

Davis served as offensive assistant for the Chargers from 1960 to 1962.

"These are the two California teams that have problems," Fabiani said. "They're the two California teams that have worked hard on solutions, certainly compared to what's happened in St. Louis. You have these two teams in California that have been working on this for years."

What do you say to fans of the Chargers in San Diego?

"It's really no different than what we've been trying to say for the last month and a half, and that is we are out of time," Fabiani said. "Stan Kroenke has forced our hand. We have to protect the future of our business. We have to preserve the quarter of our local revenues that come from L.A. and Orange County. And although we're still trying to get a result that is a positive result in San Diego, we have to for the future of our franchise protect our options. And we've been saying that for weeks."

So ideally the Chargers want to remain in San Diego?

"Absolutely," Fabiani said. "That's always been Dean Spanos' goal, is to keep the team in San Diego. And if we can find an acceptable solution here -- one that is acceptable to the mayor, the Chargers and the NFL -- and, most importantly, one that is acceptable to voters, that's always been our goal. And it remains our goal.

"Now again, we also have been very candid with people. It's been 13 years. This is Year 14. What's going to be different in Year 14 than the prior 13? The barriers are still there, so we have to be candid about that. But at the same time, we're going to keep trying."

What makes the stadium site in Carson more preferable than the one in Inglewood?

"We believe it's the best site, and the NFL has always loved the site," Fabiani said. "First of all, there's a lot of space on the land, so you can do whatever you want to create a great fan experience on game day. It's not going to be part of another development. It's not going to be something that has joint uses. It's going to be solely devoted to the fan experience on game day.

"It's easily accessible from L.A. and Orange County. It's easily accessible from the freeway systems. There will be ample parking. And inevitably in Los Angeles, if the stadium gets built there's going to be two teams in the stadium. That was always I think a given. If ever there was a stadium built, there were going to be two teams in it. That's just the reality of the world. And two teams make it much easier to finance. That's not brain surgery."