Chargers May Trade Chandler, Release Walters

Times Staff Writer

The Chargers booked a flight Tuesday for wide receiver Wes Chandler to travel from Florida to San Diego Thursday. The team has set that day aside for physical examinations before the start of Friday's mini-camp for veterans.

But don't be surprised if something happens that prompts Chandler to cancel the reservation.

"I expect something to happen in the next 72 hours," Bud Asher, Chandler's Daytona Beach agent, said late Tuesday.

Something like a trade.

Perhaps to New Orleans, where Chandler played the first four seasons of his distinguished 11-year National Football League career.

"The Saints would be a great place for Wes to land," Asher said.

Steve Ortmayer, director of football operations, who spoke with Asher Tuesday, confirmed that the Chargers had talked to several teams about Chandler. Coach Al Saunders has conveyed the news to Chandler in a phone conversation.

Meanwhile, the drug-plagued Charger career of cornerback Danny Walters appears to be over. As late as Tuesday, Walters, a free agent, was confident that his agent, Jim Steiner, was working out a deal for a new contract. Then he was informed of a published report in which Charger owner Alex Spanos was quoted as saying the team was about to release Walters.

"I guess that means the chances are I won't be back," Walters said.

Walters, 27, started 46 games for the Chargers since they chose him in the fourth round of the 1983 draft. But he lost his starting job last year to former Giant Elvis Patterson. Walters underwent drug rehabilitation in 1984 and was arrested on a cocaine-possession charge last year.

The Charger coaching staff became disenchanted when Walters didn't show up for optional practice sessions that began at the team's San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium practice field earlier this month.

"I was told the workouts were voluntary," Walters said.

He refused to slam the team verbally. "They've stuck their necks out for me more than once," he said. "Maybe it's time for me to play someplace else. I appreciate everything the Chargers have done for me."

Chandler and his agent were less polite, but both were excited about the prospect of Chandler playing elsewhere.

"They've got a couple of hotshot young wide receivers who have never played a down," Asher said, referring to the Chargers' recent No. 1 and 3 draft choices--wide receivers Anthony Miller and Quinn Early. "They figure they can get a top player at another position in exchange for Wes."

According to Asher, Chandler's contract prohibits the Chargers from trading him "to about 14 teams, including all the cold-weather cities" that don't have domed stadiums. Asher said there has been interest from Tampa Bay and, more recently, the Saints. Chandler has also informed the Chargers that he wouldn't mind playing for another team on the West Coast.

Chandler doesn't possess the speed he once did, but the Chargers don't have Dan Fouts to throw him the ball anymore, either.

"If Wes was traded to a team with an outstanding quarterback it would not only help that team but it would also help Wes," Asher said.

Chandler was the Chargers' player-representative and executive member of the NFL Players Assn. But the team said Chandler's connection with the union has nothing to do with its interest in trading him.

Chandler caught 39 passes for 617 yards and 2 touchdowns last year. His best season was 1985, when he caught 67 passes for 1,199 yards and 10 touchdowns.

The Chargers have 12 unsigned players on their roster, including 1987 starters Chip Banks, Thomas Benson, Mike Charles, Joe Phillips, Tim Spencer and Lee Williams. Ortmayer said he expects all those players to report for their physical exams Thursday.

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