Why the San Diego Chargers Are Regretting a Decision They Made in 2006

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Why the San Diego Chargers Are Regretting a Decision They Made in 2006
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After yet another record-breaking performance on Monday Night Football, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees continues to frustrate the San Diego Chargers front office.

Brees threw for 363 yards and four touchdowns plus an eight-yard dive into the end zone to lead his team to a 49-24 blowout win over a struggling New York Giants team. In addition to the victory, Brees became the first player in NFL history with four passing touchdowns, 350 yards passing and a rushing touchdown on Monday Night Football.

Since Brees signed with New Orleans in 2006, the quarterback has been selected to the Pro Bowl all four seasons, named the AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 2008 and led the Saints to their first Super Bowl title in franchise history in 2010. Did I mention he was named Super Bowl MVP as well? Just checking.

Such a list of accomplishments should be praised and remembered for years to come but don't tell Chargers general manager A.J. Smith that. Smith and the Spanos family must hate being reminded of the fact that Brees once sported lightning bolts instead of fleurs-de-lis.

With Brees on pace to break Dan Marino's single-season passing record and Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers having one of the worst seasons of his career, now seems like a perfectly good time to take a look back at that pivotal decision in 2006 that may have cost the Chargers a Super Bowl.

After two impressive seasons in San Diego with career high numbers, Brees unfortunately suffered a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder during the last game of the 2005 season. Worried that the injury might be career-threatening, the Chargers' front office was hesitant at the idea of re-signing Brees to a long-term deal.

After major surgery was performed, Brees was offered a five-year, $50 million contract that was heavily based on performance incentives. Essentially, the Chargers front office had little faith that Brees would continue his successful play post-surgery. But we all know how that turned out.

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When comparing the two quarterbacks statistically, they appear to be similar in terms of touchdown-interception ratio. Both quarterbacks are elite ranked, and both have led their respective teams to winning records. The one major difference is the ultimate goal every player dreams of. In retrospect, Brees is a Super Bowl MVP and champion in an average offense.

Brees is having arguably the best season of his career with names like Jimmy Graham, Darren Sproles and Marques Colston. You may not have heard of some of these players but with Brees under center these players are having breakout seasons.

Down in San Diego, Rivers is surrounded with Pro Bowl offensive weapons like Antonio Gates and Vincent Jackson. Don't forget also that Rivers plays in the embarrassing AFC West where a division title should be guaranteed every season, yet right now, San Diego is at the bottom of the pack with a horrendous 4-7 record, and Rivers is leading the league in interceptions with 17.

If Brees had signed that five-year contract back in 2006, the Chargers could have easily won at least one Super Bowl by now. San Diego even managed to make it to the AFC Championship game in 2007 with Rivers but were defeated by the New England Patriots. We can only wonder if the results had been different with Brees playing quarterback.

The bottom line is the 2011 season would have marked the final year of that contract, and Brees may have been on pace to break Marino's record in a Chargers uniform.

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