The potentially challenging process of striking an agreement with quarterback Philip Rivers moved to a new level Wednesday when the agent for the San Diego Chargers' first-round draft choice huddled face-to-face with team officials for the first time.
The session in San Diego, confirmed by ESPN.com, had been preceded by several phone discussions between agent Jimmy Sexton and Chargers vice president of football operations Ed McGuire. It is not known when the next meeting will take place.
Sexton was on the West Coast for several business matters, including monitoring the progress of some of his NBA clients in a summer league, and was scheduled to meet with Rivers on Wednesday night to update him on negotiations. San Diego players are slated to report to training camp July 30 and, given the unusual circumstances involved with Rivers, the two sides will have to make progress quickly to beat that date.
Rivers, of course, was the fourth overall player chosen in the first round, selected by the New York Giants. But within an hour of making the pick, the Giants traded the former North Carolina State star to San Diego for quarterback Eli Manning, whom the Chargers had chosen in the No. 1 draft slot.
The unique juxtaposition of the quarterbacks, combined with some relevant salary cap issues, will make for interesting bargaining, both by Sexton and agent Tom Condon, who represents Manning. It is believed Condon, who met face-to-face with Giants officials July 6, will travel to New York this week for a second round of talks.
Each of the players, and his agent, will want to reach a deal he can claim as the best in the 2004 draft. And there figures to be some element of gamesmanship, too, as Condon and Sexton will closely monitor the other's progress in negotiations. In terms of salary cap charge for the initial season of the contracts, it seems almost a lock that Rivers will have the higher number, since the Chargers have a larger rookie allocation.
By virtue of exercising the first overall selection, the Chargers were assigned a rookie pool of $6.02 million even though they subsequently dealt Manning. The Giants, though, can spend just $4.37 million on rookies.
One of the most prolific passers in NCAA history, Rivers, who started a record 51 games in college, is expected to compete with three-year veteran Drew Brees for the No. 1 spot on the Chargers' depth chart.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.