NFL

Royal leaves Broncos for rival Chargers

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SAN DIEGO (AP)

Wide receiver-punt returner Eddie Royal joined the San Diego Chargers on Thursday after burning them a few times while with the division rival Denver Broncos.

Royal agreed to a three-year, $13.5 million contract, with $6 million guaranteed.

''I'm just happy to be with a great organization,'' Royal told The Associated Press. ''I've always had a lot of respect for the San Diego Chargers. Whenever we had to play them, we knew it was going to be a tough game, a hard-fought game, a high-scoring game, one that would come down to the fourth quarter. We knew they would be a well-coached, tough football team to play. When I got the opportunity to join them, I knew that I really had to give them a serious look.''

Royal joined the Bolts two days after San Diego agreed with Robert Meachem. The Chargers lost top wideout Vincent Jackson to Tampa Bay in the opening hours of free agency on Tuesday.

In September 2008, after referee Ed Hochuli's infamous blown call in Denver, the rookie Royal caught a fourth-down touchdown pass from Jay Cutler and then ran the same route to catch the winning 2-point conversion.

In 2009, Royal returned a kickoff and a punt for touchdowns in a 34-23 Monday night victory at San Diego. The kickoff return went for 93 yards and the punt return was 71 yards.

''They were big plays for me,'' Royal said. ''They're something I'll always remember, but I guess it's time to put those to rest and make new highlights.''

Royal has averaged 11.9 yards per punt return for his career, third in the NFL in that span behind Julian Edelman and Devin Hester.

Malcom Floyd and Meachem are the projected starting wideouts for the Chargers, with Royal and second-year pro Vincent Brown in the mix.

Denver won the AFC West last season behind Tim Tebow. San Diego has missed the playoffs the last two seasons after a four-year run as division champion.

Tagged: Chargers, Broncos, Eddie Royal, Tim Tebow

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