The Chargers gave up Tuesday on their pursuit of running back Gary Anderson, but intensified their efforts to find a temporary replacement for injured kicker Rolf Benirschke.
Owner Alex Spanos declined to extend a 5 p.m. deadline for Anderson to accept a four-year, $1.7-million contract, with a $500,000 buy out of his existing pact with the Tampa Bay Bandits of the United States Football League.
Anderson’s agent, George Kalafatis, indicated the player wanted to earn an additional $500,000 over the four-year term proposed by Spanos.
“This is it,” Spanos said. “I made every effort to get the kid and I’m really sorry it couldn’t work out. But I’m not playing games with anyone, and I’m not going to wait around. I want the kid now, not two weeks or a month from now.”
Asked if he considered the player’s request for an additional $500,000 to be unreasonable, Spanos said, “My God, yes, and I would think a lot of other people would, too.”
Anderson, one of three first-round draft picks by the Chargers in 1983, has been pursued by the team ever since he signed with the USFL. His running and receiving skills put him among the top two or three players in that league, and made him highly appealing to the Chargers.
The package proposed by San Diego was the equivalent of the deals signed by many of this year’s first-round draft picks in the National Football League.
Spanos reiterated that under no circumstances would he trade the rights to Anderson. Last week, the Chargers swapped cornerback Mossy Cade, who eluded them after his selection in the 1984 draft, to Green Bay in exchange for a No. 1 pick next year.
The failure to land Anderson no doubt will hamper the efficiency of Air Coryell in the long term. The Chargers also learned Tuesday that rookie running back Curtis Adams, who suffered a knee injury in Sunday’s win over Buffalo, will be lost for six weeks.
But the more immediate concern is finding a replacement for Benirschke, who will miss two to four weeks with a pulled groin.
The Chargers are giving tryouts to three candidates, including Bob Thomas, a six-year veteran formerly with the Chicago Bears, and two lesser-knowns, Eddie Garcia, who was with the Packers the past two years, and Dean Biasucci, who spent 1984 with the Indianapolis Colts.
The absence of Benirschke, who missed two games last year with a kidney ailment, is complicated by a pulled groin bothering rookie kicker Ralf Mojsiejenko.
When the Chargers drafted him this year, Mojsiejenko was envisioned as a triple threat who could handle placekicking, punting and kickoffs.
But a nagging injury suffered in training camp makes it advisable for Mojsiejenko to limit himself to punting and kickoffs for the moment.
As he explained it, the soccer-style of placekicking places great strain on the groin, and thus could complicate his existing injury.
Another problem is the absence of a holder for a left-footed placekicker such as Mojsiejenko. The Chargers had trained backup Bruce Mathison for the task, but he was waived last week, and there’s no immediate replacement.
When both Benirschke and Mojsiejenko were hurt in an exhibition against New Orleans 10 days ago, the Chargers called upon linebacker Billy Ray Smith, who responded with a game-winning, barefoot 17-yard field goal.
However, Smith is viewed only as an emergency kicker, since he had done no placekicking since high school.
Injuries forced a roster move in the secondary, too. Cornerback David King was placed on injured reserve with a sprained ankle, and David Croudip was signed. Croudip, a former San Diego State defender, was with the Los Angeles Rams last season.