'Time is running out fast'
Chargers want Vick signed to avoid possible holdout
Updated: Friday April 20, 2001 1:16 AM
SAN DIEGO (AP) -- San Diego Chargers president Dean Spanos said he's not posturing by demanding a contract with Michael Vick be completed before Saturday's NFL Draft or the team will chose someone else or trade the first pick.
"We are getting very close to where John [Butler, the general manager] and I will decide to go in another direction," Spanos said Thursday afternoon.
"Time is running out fast."
Spanos wouldn't say what the drop-dead hour is. The draft begins at noon EDT Saturday.
"Both sides will know when that is," Spanos said. "Both sides know where everybody's at. We're not closer to making a deal."
The two sides spoke by phone Thursday.
The holdup appears to be that Vick's agents want him treated as a first pick even though he would sit on the bench behind Doug Flutie for a season or two. The Chargers, still smarting over the Ryan Leaf fiasco, apparently want to treat him differently.
Leaf got an $11.25 million signing bonus as the second pick overall in the 1998 draft, then responded with poor play and poor behavior. He was waived in March.
Vick left Virginia Tech with two years of eligibility remaining.
"We know where we stand, each party," Spanos said. "If the deal wants to get done, it can get done."
One of Vick's agents, Mike Sullivan, declined comment when reached at his office in Walnut Creek, Calif. The Chargers' negotiator, Ed McGuire, hasn't made himself available to reporters, a new edict since Butler took over in January.
The Chargers confirmed late Thursday that the Atlanta Falcons, who hold the fifth pick, called about a possible deal. The teams agreed to stay in touch on Friday.
Spanos said the Chargers want Vick signed to avoid a possible training camp holdout.
"If he's our first pick, we don't want any protracted talks. It's imperative that he be here," Spanos said.
Butler declined to comment on the talks with Vick or discuss reports the Chargers had turned their attention to TCU running back LaDainian Tomlinson.
"That's something Ed McGuire is working hard on," Butler said. "I'm not going to be bothering him and trying to confuse him."
Spanos also refused to say if the Chargers were talking with Tomlinson's agents.
"We've taken a position we're not going to discuss anyone we may have contacted," Spanos said.
The Cleveland Browns had the top pick the last two years and agreed on contracts with their top picks before the draft. In 1999, they agreed with Tim Couch the morning of the draft after talks grew testy the night before.
In 1998, top pick Peyton Manning didn't sign with the Colts until after training camp opened. He agreed to a deal a few days after the Chargers agreed with Leaf, the second pick.