MIAMI, April 16 (UPI) -- The San Diego Chargers Wednesday traded linebacker Junior Seau to the Miami Dolphins for an undisclosed choice in the 2004 NFL Draft.
"We had two objectives from the start," said Coach Marty Schottenheimer. "Most important, we gave Junior a voice in the process, and helped him settle with a team of his choice. We also acquired value for the Chargers in the form of a draft selection for the future. In my mind, we accomplished our goals. We ask ourselves one question regarding every decision that affects this football team: Will this decision help us become a championship football team? That's the motivation as well as the deciding factor behind every decision we make."
On Monday, the Chargers and Seau agreed to restructure his contract, paving the way for the trade to the Dolphins.
Arguably the best defensive player in Chargers history, he is tied for first on San Diego's all-time list with 200 games, including 199 starts. He was selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame All-Decade team for the 1990s and also was named Chargers MVP each season from 1997-01.
He spent 13 seasons with the Chargers. He finished his career in San Diego with 11 Pro Bowl appearances, 1,480 tackles, and 47 sacks. His 200 games played are tied for the franchise's all-time record.
"I'm humble," Seau said at a Miami news conference. "This is a great organization and a great team. It has all the parts for winning a championship. I'm going to tell you the truth, Junior Seau needed the Miami Dolphins more than the Miami Dolphins needed Junior Seau. I'm excited because I have a group a core of leaders on this team. Junior Seau is going to play alongside a group of leaders. This is still Zach Thomas', Jason Taylor's, and Tim Bowens' team, you have (Sam) Madison all the guys."
Seau is joining a defense that was ranked third in the NFL last season, allowing just 291 yards per game.
"We knew there was a possibility this day could come, just as it could come for every player," said San Diego President Dean Spanos, "but that doesn't make it any easier. I have mixed emotions. I'm going to miss him around the office during the season, but I'm happy we were able to help him open this new door in his life. I'm grateful for how he has represented himself and the team, but mostly I'm grateful for his friendship. The day Junior finally decides to hang up his cleats will be the day we honor him as one of the greatest, if not THE greatest, defensive player in our history. Though his last game may not be in a Chargers uniform, to me he will always be a San Diego Charger."
The 6-3, 250-pounder, a native of Oceanside, Calif., who played collegiately at Southern California, was the No. 1 pick, and fifth overall, of the Chargers in the 1990 draft.
In his career, he has played in 200 games, and has 1,481 tackles, caused 11 forced fumbles, and made 15 interceptions.
"I think everyone's aware that your chemistry to some degree changes," said Miami Coach Dave Wannstedt. "As a head coach, you're always looking for some way to improve. I don't think there's anybody in the National Football League that does it better or does it in more of a professional way than Junior does."
Miami (9-7) just missed the playoffs last season, losing their last two games, including a 27-24 overtime loss at New England in the finale in which the Dolphins blew an 11-point lead in the final three minutes.
"You have guys here who have a bitter taste with what happened last year," Seau said. "I competed against the Miami Dolphins, and they have everything in place for a championship. I am not here to step on any toes. Junior Seau is here to play football."
The Dolphins play at San Diego on Monday, Oct. 27.