Lease ends ticket guarantee, Chargers' lawsuit

San Diego Chargers: By a one-sided vote, the San Diego City Council has approved a new lease that ends a costly ticket guarantee and a lawsuit filed against the city by the Chargers, but which also permits the team to relocate following the 2008 NFL season.

The lease agreement, which passed by a 7-1 vote, had been strongly endorsed by Mayor Dick Murphy and also by Chargers ownership. Said team spokesman Mark Fabiani: "The Chargers are agreeing to this lease amendment for one simple reason. We want to be in San Diego permanently."

That said, the team, which is seeking a new facility near the site of Qualcomm Stadium, can begin shopping for a new home on Jan. 1, 2007, if it desires. The Chargers could leave the city after the '08 season if they pay off $57.7 million in outstanding bonds that the city used to expand and renovate Qualcomm Stadium in 1997.

In exchange for the potential franchise free agency, the city will no longer guarantee the Chargers the equivalent of guaranteed sellouts. Since 1997, the city has been obligated to ensure the Chargers revenue equivalent to the price of 60,000 general admission tickets. So on those home dates for which games were not sold out, the city had to make up the difference, an amount totaling $36.4 million since '97.

Over that period, the Chargers paid about $43 million in rent, meaning the city netted only about $1 million a year. "The city will never again be obligated to buy another football ticket," Murphy said. San Diego is also out from under a suit by the Chargers which contended the team had met predetermined financial "triggers" which allowed the franchise to renegotiate its lease.

The new lease runs through 2020, with the Chargers agreeing to pay $2.5 million in annual rent through 2013, then $3 million per year through 2016, and $4 million per year through 2020. Even though the deal provides the team as escape, few observers feel the Chargers will move, even though there have been rumors for years that the franchise might eventually relocate to the currently vacant Los Angeles market.

In other Chargers news, defensive tackle Ryon Bingham, a seventh-round
draft pick, signed a three-year contract Tuesday with the team.

Bingham was a two-year starter at Nebraska. He joins offensive
lineman Shane Olivea, a seventh-round pick from Ohio State, as the
only draft picks to sign so far with the Chargers.

-- Information from ESPN.com senior writer Len Pasquarelli and The Associated Press was used in this report.

Oakland Raiders: Tight end Courtney Anderson, a seventh-round draft choice who has received solid reviews from Raiders coaches in minicamps and spring practices, has signed his first NFL contract.

The 245th overall player chosen, Anderson signed a five-year, $1.97 million contract. The deal includes a signing bonus of $45,000 and minimum base salaries of $230,000 (for 2004), $305,000 (2005), $385,000 (2006), $460,000 (2007) and $545,000 (2008). There are "escalators" for the final two years of the deal. The '04 salary cap charge is $239,000.

Anderson is the first of the Raiders' nine draft choices to reach contract terms. At San Jose State, he caught 36 passes for 477 yards and seven touchdowns. Despite weighing 270 pounds, Anderson is very good quickness and surprising speed.

-- ESPN.com senior writer Len Pasquarelli

New England Patriots: Four-year veteran safety Jason Perry, signed as a free agent earlier this offseason and then allocated to NFL Europe, has been released by the Pats. Perry, 27, was victimized by the overall depth in the New England secondary.

His release came despite the fact that Perry, playing for the Amsterdam Admirals, led all NFLE defenders this spring with 76 tackles. He also had two sacks, two interceptions and five passes defensed.

Originally a fourth-round pick of San Diego in the 1999 draft, Perry has appeared in 41 regular-season games in stints with the Chargers, Vikings, Panthers and Bengals. For his NFL career, he has 47 tackles, two interceptions and three passes defensed. The former North Carolina State standout was also a solid special teams player.

-- ESPN.com senior writer Len Pasquarelli

Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks have signed "street" free agent defensive tackle John Schlecht, a one-time University of Minnesota standout who hasn't appeared in an NFL regular-season game since 2001.

Schlecht, 26, played in eight games for San Francisco in '01, registering five tackles. He was in camp with the Niners each of the last two seasons.

Seattle also announced that it has signed wide receiver D.J. Hackett, a fifth-round pick from Colorado. ESPN.com reported Saturday that Hackett had agreed to a three-year deal worth $1.032 million and including a signing bonus of $112,750.

-- ESPN.com senior writer Len Pasquarelli