09:35 PM CDT on Friday, April 23, 2004 NEW YORK – Eli Manning regrets his decision not to play for the San Diego Chargers became public before the NFL draft. But he does not regret the decision. "I'm not a guy who likes to cause controversy and deal with this," Manning said at a luncheon for top draft prospects Friday. "I'd like to go through smoothly with no bumps or rough paths. "But [going to San Diego] wasn't the right way. We felt this was the right decision. I'm confidant we're doing the right thing. It's unfortunate it turned out this way. But we made our comments and we're sticking to them." So if the Chargers do not trade the pick and wind up taking Manning with the first choice today, don't look for a grinning Ole Miss quarterback to put on a San Diego ball cap and jersey on stage at the Madison Square Garden Theater. "I'm not in control of anything," Manning said. "I'll show up and see what happens. I don't know if the Chargers are going to pick me or trade me or draft someone else. A lot of things can happen." The New York Giants have engaged in trade talks with the Chargers this week. The Giants openly covet Manning, whose father, Archie, and older brother Peyton became Pro Bowl quarterbacks. The Giants would like the same price San Diego charged the Atlanta Falcons for the right to select Michael Vick first overall in 2001: a swap of first-round picks, plus a third-round pick this draft, a second-rounder next year and a veteran receiver (Tim Dwight). But the Chargers are taking a harder stance this time around. They apparently want New York's first three picks of this draft and possibly a selection in next year's draft as well. Can the Giants afford that? This is a team coming off a 4-12 season with holes galore. Manning shrugged off talk of the Giants. "I haven't picked out a team," he said. "I've never said I want to play for the Giants. I never said I wanted to play for any team. I don't know what's going on behind the scenes right now. There's no team I want to go to more than another. Any other team is fine." Manning was asked if he was prepared to sit out the season in the event the Chargers select him. "We've discussed all the options," Manning said. Not as picky Then there's quarterback Ben Roethlisberger of Miami (Ohio), who pencils in as the fourth overall pick to New York if the Giants cannot cut a deal with the Chargers. It doesn't matter who drafts him. "I just want to play football," he said. "I don't care when it is, where it is. Free agent is fine with me. "Just let me play football and prove myself on the field. That's what it's all about. On the field." Roy the Buc? The Tampa Bay Buccaneers enter the draft with receiver a priority. Roy Williams is a receiver. But he's way too high on the draft board for the Bucs, who pick 15th. Bucs quarterback Chris Simms offered his former Texas teammate a couple solutions to the problem. "I wish I could go to Tampa," Williams said. "Chris wishes I could go to Tampa. He told me to run a slow 40 or fail a drug test so I could slip to them." Not likely after that 4.37 40-yard dash Williams ran on campus. He won't get out of the top 10. The Buzz ... Cleveland wants to move up from seven and Chicago wants out at 14. Houston is exploring a move up from 10, and Oakland continues entertaining trade offers at 2.