The San Diego Chargers appear ready to get rid of former University of Tennessee receiver Eric Parker, who has been one of their most prolific and dependable pass catchers over the past five years
Sources told the San Diego Union-Tribune that the Chargers have fielded calls from several teams about trading Parker and that he will be traded or released by the start of training camp next month.
General Manager A.J. Smith declined comment to the newspaper.
Parker’s agent, Jack Bechta, is expected to take a role in facilitating a trade, though he said he was just learning about the situation.
“If this is happening, I will get involved,” Bechta said. “I will start taking the lead. With the relationship I have with the front office and the respect Eric has garnered, I’m sure they’ll let us participate in the process.”
Parker has become expendable because of the arrival of Chris Chambers.
The Cleveland Browns, whose offensive coordinator is former Chargers tight ends coach Rob Chudzinksi, are among the teams that have shown interest in Parker. The Chargers are believed to be asking for a draft pick somewhere in the final three rounds.
Parker, 29, had surgery on his right big toe in October and did not play last season. He has been running and doing other drills but did not participate in minicamp or offseason coaching sessions.
Parker is healthy enough to play and will pass any physical with another team, according to several people with knowledge of his health.
Even missing the entire 2007 season, Parker’s 170 receptions since 2003 rank third on the team behind Antonio Gates and LaDainian Tomlinson. Parker was also the Chargers’ primary punt returner from 2004-06.
Meanwhile, former UT receiver Mark Jones, who spent the last three seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, signed a one-year contract with San Diego.
Jones is listed as a wide receiver, but his NFL experience has been exclusively as a punt returner. He returned 12 punts for 143 yards last year before a knee injury ended his season in late October.
Jones has 117 career returns for 1,017 yards, an average of 8.7 yards.