San Diego threatening to take money off table

Updated: August 9, 2004, 8:25 PM ET
By John Clayton | ESPN.com

Negotiations between the San Diego Chargers and first-round choice Philip Rivers broke off Sunday night after Rivers' agent, Jimmy Sexton, failed to meet a 5 p.m. deadline to accept what appears to be the Chargers' final offer.

"Negotiations have broken down," Chargers general manager A.J. Smith said. "Prior to the training camp report date, we made an effort to get Philip signed. Also, during the past week, we exchanged ideas and could not come to an agreement. On Friday, we offered a great deal to Philip. We also notified both Philip and his agent, Jimmy Sexton, that the offer will stand until 5 p.m. Sunday evening and if not accepted, the final offer will be pulled off the table."

According to sources, the Chargers' offer was six years -- worth slightly over $40.4 million -- although sources close to Rivers say the deal is worth around $39 million. Rivers was the fourth player selected in the NFL draft following a trade involving the Giants that enabled New York to get Eli Manning.

Both sides appeared to be close on the guaranteed portion of the contract. Until the last proposal, Rivers would receive $14 million in guarantees plus another $2 million in a hidden bonus that he should be able to trigger. There were disagreements on how $9 million more of incentives would be triggered.

"The offer we made to Philip is not a slot offer at No. 4, but in fact, an offer that exceeds [those of] No. 2 Robert Gallery and No. 3 Larry Fitzgerald. We believe it's a great offer. Jimmy Sexton has been informed several times that the Eli Manning-Tom Condon deal with the New York Giants was of no concern to us before, no concern now nor will it be in the future. This is very unfortunate and disappointing but it is what it is."

Sexton felt progress was made over the weekend when he decided to stop asking for more than the base value of the Manning contract, which is worth $45 million over six years, excluding another $9 million in incentives and escalators. According to two sources, Rivers lowered his demand to $44 million over six years and agreed to take the structure Manning had in his contract.

"It's a shame the club decided to do this," Sexton said of the Chargers' position to go public and take a hard-line stance. "I don't think it helps to get a deal. All they have done over the weekend is keep making ultimatums."

The strange part of his holdout is that both sides moved closer to a deal over the weekend. By coming below the Manning contract, Rivers is within $3 million to $4 million of a contract if the Chargers' offer is better than the Fitzgerald deal.

Gallery is expected to make $40.5 million over seven years but has some huge incentives and escalators over the backside of the contract. Fitzgerald is supposed to make $40.4 million over six years, but there is a $12.5 million payment in the final year of the contract. The Chargers didn't like that deal because of a bigger backside for incentives.

To further fuel the possibility of a long holdout, the Chargers are threatening to start taking money off the table soon.

"We also informed them that the package we talked about and offered will now only go down in value," Smith said.

These were the final words the Chargers said they will discuss for the Rivers contract negotiations.

"It's now time to concentrate on the players we have here and get ready for our preseason game and gear our efforts to get ready for the opener against Houston," Smith said. "From this time forward, I will not talk about the Philip Rivers contract situation anymore. I hope I've made our position very clear. If he decides to sign a contract with the San Diego Chargers, then I'll be more than happy to talk about Philip Rivers."

John Clayton is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

John Clayton

NFL senior writer

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