Morning Dump

By Ernie Padaon

The San Diego Chargers finished the season 8-8 and out of the postseason so now they will start to rebuild for next year with between $10 million and $15 million worth of room under the expected salary cap of around $120 million, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

The Chargers brass will spend the next two weeks prior to the NFL Scouting Combine and into March finishing up their evaluation of the current roster and figuring out who to bring back and bring in.

The other player who may be in jeopardy is defensive end Luis Castillo, who missed most of last season with a broken leg. Castillo is due nearly $5 million in 2012 and the Chargers are expected to either release him or try to renegotiate his current contract.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Chargers are expected to have a ton of room to maneuver under the salary cap, and will likely get more by cutting tackle Marcus McNeill next month. For his salary to be guaranteed for 2012, McNeill must be cleared to play after a neck injury prematurely ended his 2011 season — and he is unlikely to get that medical clearance from team doctors, the paper reports. The Chargers could opt to stay in-house and sign Jared Gaither, whom the Chargers signed after he was cut by Kansas City and played well in McNeill’s absence.

Chargers QB Philip Rivers didn’t win the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award during Super Bowl weekend. But as one of three finalists, he did pick up $6,000 for his Rivers of Hope Foundation for orphaned children. Rivers, who obviously cares about kids, has six of his own, making him a good father and good Catholic. In a profile in the National Catholic Register this month, he talks about faith and football and how they coalesce for him. “St. Sebastian is the patron of athletes, so I wear a medal of him, along with a miraculous medal and crucifix,” says Rivers. After he tore his ACL in a winning 2008 playoff game, he says, the next playoff game fell on the same day as St. Sebastian’s feast day. “Amazingly, maybe even miraculously,” Rivers says, “I was able to play that game.” (Yes, point-killers, the Chargers lost the game.)