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Chargers sign Charlie Whitehurst (again), release Billy Volek

By Ryan Wilson | CBSSports.com
Charlie Whitehurst and Philip Rivers: together again. (US PRESSWIRE)

When the Seahawks swapped 2010 second-round picks with the Chargers, and threw in a 2011 third-rounder to acquire third-string quarterback Charlie Whitehurst in May 2010, San Diego general manager A.J. Smith was reportedly "thrilled."

And for good reason. In 2009, the season before Whitehurst was shipped to Seattle, San Diego wide receiver Legedu Naanee and running back LaDainian Tomlinson attempted more passes -- one each. (In fact, in four seasons Whitehurst never threw a pass in a real live game.)

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So it wasn't much of a surprise when Whitehurst struggled in Seattle. In four starts over two seasons, the former Clemson quarterback completed 54 percent of his throws, tossed three touchdowns to four interceptions, and was sacked 13 times. Seattle didn't make an effort to retain him and Friday, he signed up for his second tour of duty with the Chargers.

But unlike his first stint in San Diego when he was a third-teamer, Whitehurst will now be Philip Rivers' primary backup. We know this because the team also released long-time No. 2 Billy Volek.

According to Adam Caplan, the Chargers save $3.5 million in cap space by cutting ties with Volek, andPFT reports that Whitehurst got a two-year, $4 million deal ($1 million signing bonus) to return to San Diego.

Vincent Jackson's agent once famously said that A.J. Smith was known as the "Lord of No Rings," but give the guy credit for what he's done in the first few days of free agency. He landed wideouts Robert Meachem and Eddie Royal for relative bargains, signed the Ravens' most underrated defender, Jarret Johnson, and just reclaimed Whitehurst after trading him for a 2011 third-round pick.

That said, if the Chargers don't improve (a lot) on last year's 8-8 effort, Smith and head coach Norv Turner will both be looking for gigs next spring.

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