Just when the Chargers were supposed to be trading for a quarterback, they traded one away Wednesday.
Mark Herrmann was just as surprised as everybody else when he found out that the Chargers had shipped him back to Indianapolis for a 1989 late-round draft pick. Herrmann came to the Chargers from the Colts for a 10th-rounder on March 27, 1985.
"I never thought in a million years I'd be coming back here (Indianapolis)," said Herrmann by phone. His off-season residence is a half-hour drive from the Colts' Indianapolis training complex.
"I'm very disappointed it didn't work out for me in San Diego. I think I played well under difficult conditions. And I think this is a risky decision by the Chargers."
Risky unless, perhaps, they are about to sign another quarterback to replace Herrmann.
The Chargers are expected to announce the signing of free agent Steve Fuller, a former Bear backup quarterback, any day now.
An agreement with Fuller is "impending," said a Charger official Wednesday night. That same official said he expected that Fuller would be in camp next week when the Chargers hold quarterback school.
The Chargers have four quarterbacks on their roster: Mark Malone, recently acquired from the Pittsburgh Steelers; Mark Vlasic, a rookie last year; Mike Kelley, one of the strike quarterbacks, and much-traveled Babe Laufenberg.
Of that group, Malone figures to be the starter in 1988--if a trade doesn't happen.
But the Chargers just finished spending their first- and third-round draft choices on wide receivers--Tennessee's Anthony Miller and Iowa's Quinn Early. And Malone had the worst passing rating in the NFL last year.
There are serious questions about whether the erratic Malone will be able to get the ball to Miller and Early consistently.
Steve Ortmayer, the team's director of football operations, says he is still looking for a veteran quarterback to replace Dan Fouts who retired last month.
Oddly enough, the veteran quarterback the Chargers wanted before the draft, Washington's Jay Schroeder, could end up in Indianapolis. Earlier this week, the Fort Wayne Sentinel reported a series of bids for Schroeder made by the Colts to Washington before last Sunday's draft.
The Colts' regular quarterback, when he's healthy, is former Cowboy Gary Hogeboom. But Hogeboom, who is in the option year of his contract, is recovering from dislocation of his right shoulder suffered in the 11th game of the 1987 season.
The Colts also have Jack Trudeau and Sean Salisbury at quarterback. And they drafted Washington's Chris Chandler in the third round Sunday.
"Hopefully," Herrmann said, "I'll find a place."
In three years with the Chargers, Herrmann completed 220 passes in 335 attempts for 2,569 yards and threw 13 touchdown passes and 18 interceptions.