<
>

Schottenheimer staying on but refuses extension

SAN DIEGO -- Marty Schottenheimer will return as coach of
the San Diego Chargers next season, but turned down the team's offer to exercise a one-year club option for 2008 worth $4.5 million.

Three days after the talented Chargers melted down in a 24-21
playoff loss to New England, team president Dean Spanos announced
that the embattled coach will be back for the final year of his contact.

Speculation grew following Sunday's loss that Schottenheimer
might be fired due in part to the front office's expectations of a
Super Bowl run, and to the coach's icy relationship with general
manager A.J. Smith.

"I have decided that Marty Schottenheimer is the best person to
lead the Chargers in the 2007 season," Spanos said in a statement
Wednesday. "General Manager A.J. Smith and I agree on this
fundamental point."


Schottenheimer is under contract for $3.8 million this coming season.

"He decided not to accept [the] extension and I respect his
decision," Spanos said.

Schottenheimer, the most successful coach never to reach the
Super Bowl, didn't give a specific reason for declining the extension.

"I'm very comfortable with fulfilling the contract I signed
several years ago," he said at a news conference.

Spanos and Smith did not attend the news conference.

The Chargers failed to advance in the playoffs despite their
NFL-best 14-2 record.

Schottenheimer's career playoff record dropped to 5-13.

Information from The Associated Press and ESPN Insider Chris Mortensen was used in this report.