Chargers announce they're moving to Los Angeles

Chargers announce they're moving to Los Angeles

SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Chargers are moving to Los Angeles, where they will join the recently relocated Rams in giving the nation's second-largest media market two NFL teams for the first time in decades.

Team chairman Dean Spanos made the announcement Thursday in a letter posted on the Chargers' Twitter account.

"San Diego has been our home for 56 years. It will always be part of our identity, and my family and I have nothing but gratitude and appreciation for the support and passion our fans have shared with us over the years. But today, we turn the page and begin an exciting new era as the Los Angeles Chargers," Spanos said in the letter.

The Chargers' decision to move comes less than three months after San Diego voters resoundingly rejected a team-sponsored measure asking for $1.15 billion in increased hotel occupancy taxes to help fund a $1.8 billion downtown stadium and convention center.

They're leaving behind a loyal fan base that cheered for Dan Fouts, Charlie Joiner and Kellen Winslow during the Air Coryell years in the 1970s and early 1980s, and for Junior Seau, Stan Humphries and Natrone Means on the Chargers' only Super Bowl team in 1994.

San Diego could become a tenant in the stadium being built in Inglewood for the Rams if the Chargers exercise that option. If not, the Oakland Raiders would have the option to join the Rams in the L.A. area, though Raiders owner Mark Davis has indicated his intention to seek a move to Las Vegas.

Relations have been strained for years between the Chargers, who've sought a big public subsidy to replace aging Qualcomm Stadium, and City Hall, which has been beset by scandals and various economic crises.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer formed a task force in 2015 to try to find a stadium solution, but the Chargers didn't like its recommendation and walked away from negotiations with the city and county. Faulconer recently met with Spanos, and helped cobble together a $375 million package from the city, county and San Diego State, which also plays football at Qualcomm Stadium.

The Chargers would have to find a temporary home in L.A., either the Coliseum or the 27,000-seat StubHub! Center in Carson.

San Diego was given the option to move to L.A. after owners rejected a proposed shared stadium for the Chargers and Raiders in Carson, and accepted the Rams' plans for Inglewood. The owners gave the Chargers and Raiders each an additional $100 million to try to make stadium deals in their home markets.

The NFL's stadium and finance committees met Wednesday for about 3 1/2 hours to discuss relocation of the Chargers and Raiders. The fact-finding meetings mostly centered on the Raiders' plan for a potential move to Nevada. No filings for relocation were made; Oakland has until Feb. 15.

With high expectations, Derek Barnett knows he still has plenty to learn

With high expectations, Derek Barnett knows he still has plenty to learn

Back near the far hedges of the NovaCare Complex's practice fields, a small group of defensive linemen in white jerseys and shorts participated in some drills. There were barely enough of them to even assemble a defensive line. More than half of the 90 men on the Eagles’ current roster were not at the team’s facilities. 

One of those few defensive linemen was Derek Barnett. On the first day of his first training camp, reporters later crowded around the first-round pick’s temporary locker as if he were the second-coming. Someone asked if he had any issues, considering his high-profile status, with the location of his locker, which is in the middle of the room and not one of the permanent stalls along the wall.

“I ain't made no plays yet,” Barnett said Monday, “so I'm cool with this locker until I make some plays.”

Good point. In terms of both Barnett’s career and this Eagles season, it is early. Very early. And to overhype the magnitude of Monday’s practice with rookies, quarterbacks and selected veterans would be silly. But Barnett knows where he stands, and he took the day as another opportunity to learn. He knows he must.

"Just keep on repping," Barnett said. "I come in and get better each day. It's not a sprint, it's a marathon."

Barnett has never lived anywhere outside of Tennessee. He hails from Brentwood, a suburb of Nashville. He attended the University of Tennessee, where his 33 sacks in three seasons broke Reggie White’s school record. Now the 21-year-old lives in Philadelphia, away from his family — especially his mother, whom he credits as his greatest influence — for the first time. They talk just about every day, and she’s been helpful in his move. Google Maps has been an aid, too. Barnett wants to know more about the city and its history.

He can absorb that knowledge over time, but the Eagles, of course, would prefer that he learns how to beat NFL offensive tackles as quickly as possible. Barnett joined a defensive end unit led by its only clear-cut starter in Brandon Graham. After that, Barnett, along with Chris Long and Vinny Curry, will get time. He might start, he might not. Any pressure that came along with going 14th overall, Barnett said, he doesn’t feel. But an internal force drives him.

“I have very high expectations for myself,” Barnett said. “And that's every year I go into a football season. I'm the biggest critic of myself.”

To get out on the field a few days early was good for Barnett, he said. After spending the time off over the last few weeks at home in Tennessee and working out with former All-Pro end Chuck Smith and Atlanta, he relished the opportunity. Given the limited numbers, Barnett lined up on both the right and left sides of the ball. He said he feels comfortable on either side. It was the not the game action he’s been anxious for, and it didn’t feel “real” without all the veterans, but it was a start.

The vets are on their way, though. The first full-team practice is Thursday, and with that will come the more polished Graham, Curry and Long. That’s three more sets of eyes to critique him, and three more sets of skills for him to watch; Barnett said observing their methods will help him get “mental reps.” The competition won’t hurt either.

The transition appears to be smooth so far. Barnett said he’s had to “unlearn” some of what he did in college, replacing it with a new set of muscle memory. The pace Monday was faster than during OTAs, but Barnett acknowledged that there are no days off in a league where everyone on the field is more capable. You can’t “slack mentally.”

"Coming in today, my coaches said, 'Just play, go, you can make mistakes, and if you do we'll correct them,'" Barnett said. "I didn't feel like there were many mistakes, but I still got some technique things … Things I need to do better."

All of it is new — the techniques, the coaches, the team and the city. Still, familiarity remains.

“It feels like I'm a freshman again, but I'm a rookie,” Barnett said. “I gotta come in and work hard and prove to my teammates that it's important to me and show the coaches they can trust me if they put me on the field.”

Eagles sign Canadian rugby star Adam Zaruba to be tight end

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AP Images

Eagles sign Canadian rugby star Adam Zaruba to be tight end

The Eagles didn't just look north of the border for their newest player. They looked to a completely different sport. 

On Monday afternoon, the Birds signed undrafted free agent and Canadian rugby star Adam Zaruba to a three-year contract, although the length of the contract is standard. 

Zaruba, a 26-year-old Vancouver native, had a tryout before being signed, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson confirmed earlier on Monday. 

Listed at 6-5, 265 pounds, Zaruba is the Eagles' biggest tight end, even bigger than Brent Celek (6-4, 255). While the Eagles have three tight end spots locked up — Celek, Zach Ertz and Trey Burton — Zaruba will likely need to shine on offense and as a special teamer if he has any chance to make the team. 

While this isn't Zaruba's first time playing football, it is his first time playing football in a while. His last competitive football game came in high school, according to TheProvince

Zaruba redshirted as a football player in his freshman year at college and then never played after that, becoming a full-time member of the Canadian national rugby team by 2014. 

He's apparently made a name for himself in the rugby world. Here are some highlights, including an impressive one-handed grab: 

It likely won't be an easy transition from rugby to American football, but the Eagles were probably impressed by Zaruba's athleticism. On June 29, he posted a video to his Instagram account claiming he ran a 4.49 in the 40-yard dash while weighting 260 pounds. To put that into perspective, that time would have ranked second among all tight end competitors at this year's combine and would have been faster than the time put up by 19th overall pick O.J. Howard. 

Zaruba isn't the first rugby player to attempt the conversion to the NFL. The most famous example is Patriots' special teamer Nate Ebner. The U.S. rugby player has played for the Patriots since 2012 and was a second-team All-Pro in 2016. 

After signing Zaruba, the Eagles' roster is full at 90 men.