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Chargers Release of Fox Is Short-Lived : Team Has Trouble Coming to Terms With Two Draft Choices

Times Staff Writer

Tim Fox was a former Charger for a few hours Tuesday after the team released him. But the story had at least a temporary happy ending when Fox resigned with the team.

Two second-round draft choices were not so happy at the end of the day. Defensive backs Wayne Davis of Indiana State and Jeffrey Dale of LSU were wondering whether they ever would play for the Chargers because of slow contract negotiations.

The Chargers had released Fox, a free agent strong safety, after repeated attempts to trade him failed. They were forced to take Fox back when they were told his 1985 playing contract was signed and in the mail.

When Fox did not receive a qualifying offer from another NFL team before April 15, the Chargers had until June 1 to sign him at 110% of his 1984 salary. Fox then had 15 days to return the contract that the Chargers mailed May 28, a fact team management was unaware of when it released Fox. Tuesday afternoon, Fox told a reporter he did not think the team had a right to release him. He then called the Chargers, and, after checking NFL rules, the Chargers discovered Fox was right.

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So Fox is a Charger for now, but maybe not for long.

“We had hoped to resign Tim in order to make a trade for him,” said John Sanders, the Chargers general manager, before Tuesday’s confusion developed. “However, when some possible trades did not materialize, we decided to release Tim and give him time to sign with another team.”

Meanwhile, the Chargers are having little luck in attempts to sign their second-round draft choices.

A source close to the Davis negotiations said Davis is seeking “in the ballpark” of what the Chargers are paying linebacker Mike Guendling, their 1984 second-round selection. Guendling, who missed last season with a broken kneecap, has a four-year contract worth approximately $1 million.

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According to the source, Davis and the Chargers had a handshake deal on a contract similar to Guendling’s. But the source said the deal was contingent upon approval of Alex Spanos, the Chargers owner, who apparently turned it down.

Davis was in town Tuesday, hoping to finalize negotiations. His agent, Edward Sewell, expressed disappointment at what transpired.

“It seems the team is dug in on a set of numbers,” Sewell said. “They show inflexibility toward how the contract would be shaped. I think Wayne feels like a yo-yo. The Chargers invited him out with the intent of signing him, but they have retreated two times. He’s pretty confused about where things are going.”

Tank Younger, Chargers assistant general manager, denied the team had a handshake deal with Davis, but he said negotiations were “proceeding.”

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“That’s all I can say,” Younger said. “I never think someone is close to signing until they are signed. There’s no such thing as close. You either have or haven’t signed. The day you pick someone out of the hopper, you’re close to signing him because he’s your property.”

However, players still have the option of signing with the USFL. The Chargers lost Mossy Cade, their No. 1 draft choice in 1984, to the rival league. San Diego is reported to have offered Cade a four-year contract worth $1.6-million.

Dale, the second Charger pick in this year’s second-round, is still home in Louisiana. He is thought to be asking for a contract similar to what the Chargers said they offered Cade.

“All I can say is we’ve talked some numbers,” said Kerry Shinn, Dale’s agent. “Mr. Sanders is supposed to get back to me ASAP. We certainly aren’t anywhere close, let me put it that way. I hope the new owner is willing to invest money on a winning ballclub there.”

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