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Sunday, March 12, 2006
Chargers address safety needs, add McCree

By John Clayton
ESPN.com

For the second consecutive year, the Chargers used free agency to help the safety position.

Safety
San Diego Chargers

Profile
2005 SEASON STATISTICS
Tot Ast Solo FF Sack Int
87 73 14 0 0 3

The Chargers reached a five-year, $16 million agreement Saturday night with Panthers safety Marlon McCree. Included in the deal is $6 million in roster bonuses over the first two years of the contract.

Last year, the Chargers brought in Bhawoh Jue from the Packers and he helped to improve the secondary. McCree was brought in with the idea of playing free safety but he also has the versatility to play at strong safety.

Though the Chargers have $24 million of cap room, they are not going to be big players in free agency. McCree is expected to be their biggest signing. The Chargers prefer to build through the draft and spot free agency moves and spend their money in re-signings and extensions.

General manager A.J. Smith said the coaching staff will decide whether McCree will play free or strong safety.

"He's a terrific football player, very versatile," Smith said. "He's tough and competitive."

McCree had 88 tackles and three interceptions for Carolina last year. He spent the 2003-04 seasons with the Houston Texans after beginning his career in Jacksonville.

John Clayton is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.