Jackson and McNeill Extend Holdouts
Chargers fans want to hang on to Jackson. (AP)
Chargers fans want to hang on to Jackson. (AP)

Posted Jun 24, 2010


"Who's to blame?" It's a question that consumes the Chargers and their followers.

Just what parties are guilty of getting the Chargers in their current situation -- painted into such a tidy, little corner?

The offseason has nearly come and gone and Pro Bowlers Marcus McNeill and Vincent Jackson haven't set foot in Chargers Park.

Upset over the team not offering them long-term contracts, McNeill, a left tackle, and Jackson, a wide receiver, are boycotting the workouts.

The Chargers yanked their tender offers to the restricted free agents off the negotiating table, which potentially cost each player $2.5 million in compensation for next season. Now, there's no negotiating being done at all.

And that was well within the Chargers' right, according to the fine print in the CBA agreement with the league entering an uncapped season.

But while it was right to management, was it also the wrong move for the Chargers to make?

McNeill and Jackson are key components to an offense which moves the ball through the air. Wasn't there a way to placate the players in a creative manner to guarantee they would be in the lineup when the season opens?

Chargers general manager A.J. Smith's reputation is as a hard-nosed, old-school, executive. If the players let a deadline pass without signing, the onus is on them, not the Chargers.

And to a degree, he is right.

With the upheaval with the CBA and the threat of a lockout after this season, not many teams are lavishing their players with long-term deals with such an uncertain future.

That said, the Chargers knew long ago this day was coming. The Chargers knew players were serious in their intent to stay out. But couldn't something have been done to prevent the protector of Philip Rivers' blind side, and his favorite downfield threat, from being on the outside looking in?

This situation could still work itself out considering the next deadline is at least six weeks away -- that's when Jackson and McNeill will be monitored to see if they report to training camp.

The Chargers are built to win now, built to reach the Super Bowl, built to succeed because they have talented players at critical positions in McNeill and Jackson.

By attacking the situation in this manner, Smith might eventually get these players in, but at what cost?

NOTES, QUOTES


SS Kevin Ellison
Kevin Terrell/Getty
--The team cut SS Kevin Ellison, who started nine games last year. Ellison's job was in question when the team drafted Darrell Stuckey. Ellison didn't help his cause when he was arrested in possession of 100 Vicodin pills this offseason.

Along with Ellison being shown the door, DT Ian Scott, who spent last season with the team, RB Cory Jackson and WR Jordyn Jackson were also released.

--Coach Norv Turner has heard the talk that the pass-happy Chargers are a finesse team. Maybe that is among the reasons he went out of his way recently to speak of how tough the Chargers are.

"I think we have a chance to be one of the most physical teams in the league," Turner said. "I am really excited to get to camp and go do the work you have to do to become one of the best teams."

--SS Steve Gregory, who could battle rookie Darrell Stuckey for a starting job once camp starts, is getting his mind and body ready for camp -- while enjoying a short respite. "(It's) staying in shape, staying flexible and all those things that can prepare you for the grind of the season," he said. "That's what it is all about now. It's time to get the body ready for camp."

--The Chargers' bid to build a downtown stadium got a boost by a recent San Diego City Council vote to further explore the possibility.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Having two players out is far from perfect, but we understand that it's a business decision that they've made. They stated their position, which is that they're not happy with us and our approach." -- GM A.J. Smith on Marcus McNeill and Vincent Jackson's decision not to sign their tender offers.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

The Chargers, facing the possibility of Marcus McNeill and Vincent Jackson not being with them for the regular-season opener, are fast-forwarding the learning curve of two possible replacements.

Veteran left tackle Tra Thomas was signed as a possible fill-in for McNeill. Thomas is a three-time Pro Bowler, but he's not close to that level as a 35-year-old.

Josh Reed was also obtained, but he's not the same dynamic pass-catcher as Jackson. Reed is more of a possession, underneath route runner while Jackson is a downfield threat with his speed and great leaping ability.

Both positions, and how fast those possible voids can be filled, consumes the Chargers as they head for training camp.



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