Chargers GM Smith gets extension. Will playoff win follow?
SAN DIEGO -- After building the San Diego Chargers into a consistent playoff contender -- if not yet a postseason success -- general manager A.J. Smith received a five-year contract extension Tuesday that will keep him with the team through 2014.
Details weren't announced, but various reports said the extension was worth $11 million.
Smith didn't return phone calls seeking comment.
Team president Dean Spanos was traveling and unavailable for comment, his secretary said.
Smith's previous contract was due to expire following the 2009 season. He was promoted in April 2003 after John Butler died of cancer.
The Chargers have won the AFC West for the third time in four seasons under Smith. They'll try to break a four-game postseason losing streak dating to January 1995 when they host the Tennessee Titans on Sunday in the wild-card round. Two of those playoff losses have come on Smith's watch.
Although it was Butler who drafted star running back LaDainian Tomlinson, Smith has proven to be a strong talent evaluator by drafting star players such as outside linebacker Shawne Merriman, quarterback Philip Rivers and cornerback Antonio Cromartie.
He's also signed undrafted players who developed into Pro Bowlers, most notably tight end Antonio Gates, a three-time All-Pro. Two other free agent pickups, guard Kris Dielman and special teams player Kassim Osgood, have developed into Pro Bowlers.
Smith is probably best known for holding his ground when Eli Manning's representatives told the Chargers just before the 2004 draft that the quarterback wouldn't play for San Diego if it took him with the first overall pick.
Smith drafted Manning anyway, then swapped his rights to the New York Giants for the rights to Rivers, as well as picks he used to take kicker Nate Kaeding later in that draft and Merriman the following year.
Smith also obtained wide receiver Chris Chambers from Miami at this year's trade deadline. The acquisition of Chambers has helped open up the running game.
The Chargers are 50-30 under Smith, but 0-2 in the postseason.
Smith became involved in a front-office soap opera when his relationship with coach Marty Schottenheimer soured to the point that the two men didn't talk to each other.
Schottenheimer was fired by Spanos in February, a month after the top-seeded Chargers fell apart in their playoff opener, a shocking 24-21 loss to the New England Patriots.
The Chargers also lost to the New York Jets in overtime in the 2004 wild-card round, also under Schottenheimer.
Smith hired Norv Turner to replace Schottenheimer. After a stunning 1-3 start, the Chargers head into the playoffs having won six straight and 10 of 12.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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