Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

12 Oct 2010

Chargers Sign McNeill to Five-Year Extension

Apparently, the aftereffects of the Brandyn Dombrowski Experience forced A.J. Smith's hand. ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that the San Diego Chargers have agreed to terms with left tackle Marcus McNeill on a five-year extension that will keep McNeill in San Deigo through 2015. McNeill had held out through late September in protest of his restricted free agent tender and has been ineligible to play since -- he'll be ready to go against the Rams next Sunday.

Posted by: Doug Farrar on 12 Oct 2010

34 comments, Last at 14 Oct 2010, 9:24am by Neoplatonist Bolthead


by Southern Philly :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 1:49am

"McNeill had held out through the first five games of the season in protest of his restricted free agent tender."

Not quite, he reported 2 weeks ago but has been ineligible to play. He can come back this week, so naturally this is when he gets a new contract. No sense in paying the man to not play.

by Doug Farrar :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 2:00am

Fixed -- thanks.

by speedegg :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 2:57am

After watching the Charger's offense (or lack of) at the game, McNeill isn't enough, but at least Rivers won't cough the ball up after taking a blindside hit.

by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 3:41am

After watching the Charger's offense (or lack of) at the game, McNeill isn't enough, but at least Rivers won't cough up the ball after taking a blindside hit.

What? They scored three touchdowns and two field goals, averaged seven yards a play, and had 29 first downs. How is that a lack of offense?

McNeill won't be enough? They could easily have had another 10 to 14 points if they had avoided some turnovers or red zone mistakes. You don't think a giant upgrade at left tackle will help there?

And "at least Rivers won't cough up the ball after taking a blindside hit" -- don't you think that's a pretty big deal?

by Lebo :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 6:16am

Yeah, it seems to me that the Chargers' biggest problem is special teams, not offense:

Wk 1 - one punt return touchdown against the Chiefs
Wk 2 - nothing of note against the Jaguars
Wk 3 - two kick-off return touchdowns against the Seahawks
Wk 4 - nothing of note against the Cardinals
Wk 5 - two blocked punts against the Raiders, one for a safety and one for a touchdown

John Bonamego should have sent his cv to A.J. Smith already.

by Kulko :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 6:47am

I only watched the first three quarters but I would say that they played well enough on offense, chunking out passing plays in 20yd-sized bits.

Of course the sack was on their backup LT, and that obviously hurt, and I think there were also a few line penalties, but overall their problem lay in other areas.

The redzine fumble by the RB can no way attributed to the LT. The RB was just way too unconcerned about ball security, when running into the pile.

by Joseph :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 11:02am

I haven't seen the Chargers personally--but:
1. Blind side security IS pretty important--should make Rivers more comfortable back there.
2. I think I remember reading something recently here about how linemen play off each other--that is, if they are confident that the guy beside them will consistently handle his block, they can climb to the 2nd level, or help another lineman, etc. I wonder how much confidence the Chargers' left guard has in Dombrowski (sp?)--which might affect his play, where he can't help the C with double-teams, causing the C to draw a hold (or he false-starts because he needs to back up faster or something). For a very obvious example, Alex Barron (DAL version).
3. Since sacks are bad, strip-sacks are worse (unless you are Max Hall*), and strip-sacks recovered by the defense are the worst of all, having a LT who can prevent them could theoretically help the Chargers win games.

[*If you don't get the Max Hall reference: against the Saints, he fumbled twice while scrambling. The first time, it was 3rd and goal from the 2 (where they had started after a Brees INT), he scrambles toward the pylon, fumbles after a big hit before crossing the plane, and Levi Brown picks it up and scores. SHOULD have been a big win for the D to force a FG when the Cards start at the 2. The second time he fumbles, it's loose and bouncing and someone from AZ recovers for a 1st down. But it's not like I'm mad or anything.]

by donk (not verified) :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 11:32am

What Vince said.

by CDB (not verified) :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 11:58am

What donk said. SD's offense was pretty fantastic Sunday except for the turnovers and a couple missed red zone opportunities. They went up and down the field at will.

by BJR :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 12:25pm

It was Oakland though. But yeah, their downfield passing still looks great even without Vincent Jackson. One thing they could do to improve on offence is stop giving the ball to Mike Tolbert. He's just slow. Tolbert should not be getting anywhere near double digit carries on that offence now Ryan Mathews is getting healthy again.

by speedegg :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 2:49pm

True, I should have qualified that as even with a quality left tackle, the sloppiness and lack of discipline on the team won't be enough for McNeill to overcome. Having been at the game, I was stunned how inconsistent the offense has become even against a mediocre Raiders team.

I kept getting the feeling that Rivers kept looking for big plays, the Air Coryell/Turner offense usually reads deep to near, and part of the problem was holding on to the ball waiting for his average receivers to get open or just forcing throws. It also seemed Matthews and Tolbert just couldn't be the 3rd backs Rivers needs. It was boom-bust team that busted more in this game (4th Quarter), but I need to watch the game on Rewind to see if what I saw jives with the bird's eye view from TV.

It's just disgusting how high Schottenhemier took this team and how low it's become with Turner.

by maestro876 :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 3:50pm

Yeah, Marty took this team all the way to the Sup--oh wait.

by greybeard :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 4:19pm

How high did Marty take this team?

by speedegg :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 6:09pm

Marty took the Chargers to the wildcard and 1st round of the playoffs...and got eliminated both times. The first time was in 2004 when the Chargers rebounded to a 12-4 record, but were a young team and couldn't handle the NY Jets.

Schottenhemier's second chance was in 2006, but was outdone by Phillip Rivers' inability to handle the Belichick blitz, Drayton Florence's headbutts, Marlon Mcree's interception turn fumble turn New England recovery and really fluky plays that day.

In general, Schottenhemier's Chargers are the opposite of Turner's Chargers. Schottenhemier's team seemed more disciplined and had higher standards except for the Quarterback. Turner only focuses on the Quarterback and the rest of the team is shambles.

by Sjt (not verified) :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 8:54pm

The epic meltdown against the Pats in 2006 isn't Marty's fault? Somehow that team was more disciplined?

by greybeard :: Wed, 10/13/2010 - 12:22am

So not as high as Norv did.

by Neoplatonist Bolthead (not verified) :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 4:38pm

Uh, the Chargers have been to the divisional round of the playoffs every year since 2006. That's not a SB win, but it really is the next best thing.

by drobviousso :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 9:12am

Will McNeill play on punt teams?

by Independent George :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 9:30am

Hey, it couldn't hurt!

by Scott C :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 4:08pm

What do you think that offensive-line looking thing is around the ball before the snap to punt?

by Andrew Potter :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 4:16pm

In San Diego? A human sieve.

by Theo :: Wed, 10/13/2010 - 9:15am

that offensive-line looking thing isn't really the offensive line

by Neoplatonist Bolthead (not verified) :: Thu, 10/14/2010 - 9:24am

You mean the offensive line-looking thing that has to race downfield and tackle the returner? Somehow, I think Big Mac (or backup Brandyn Dombrowski) would only be an upgrade over Antwan Applewhite in one of the two phases of the play. Somehow I think Not Ethan Albright at LS will probably be good enough. Man, I miss David Binn. Losing Binn and Osgood has so far had exactly the same effect on the team that losing JWall and Hardwick did last year: three losses in the first five games. Actually, it's a little worse, 'cause the Steelers would have won that game anyway, though this year's opening schedule has been softer. Isn't that crazy? So much for positional value.

I think there are two guys the Bolts haven't got active that could probably come in and replace C.J. Spillman and let Applewhite focus on defense. WR Richard Goodman (#15) and DE Vaughn Martin (#92) are both very physical prospects.

Goodman (6', 195 lbs), is fast, quick and powerful; he's a good returner, but even more important, he could probably also be a solid gunner, at which Spillman was just a failure. Spillman is a big hitter, but he's a gambler with poor instincts and no discipline. He's also not as fast or strong as he thinks he is. Goodman is a question-mark, but we'll call that an upgrade.

Martin (6'4", 320 lbs; AKA "Jamaican Bacon") has great foot-speed for a lineman. His football skills are questionable (he played Canadian football in college), but you can't block him with one special-teamer. And he's 60 lbs heavier than Applewhite, fast enough to keep up on coverage, and not nearly as valuable in terms of team success (the Chargers had to cut Alphonso Boone, who was doing a fine job, just because they had too many guys at the position).

by Lrrr (not verified) :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 10:01am

Bring me McNeill!

by Guido Merkens :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 11:44am

This is not McNeill! We want the single female lawyer. She wears miniskirts and is promiscuous.

by maestro876 :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 11:20am

Dombrowski's play didn't force anything at all. The team's stance the entire time was "sign your tender and we'll see about an extension". Marcus eventually gave in and signed the reduced tender just before the game at Seattle. Now he's getting an extension. The Chargers never wavered in their stance.

The attitude of their front office is "Play hard and cooperate (i.e. sign your tender) and we'll take care of you." Rivers played hard, cooperated, and got his big contract. Gates played hard, cooperated, and got his big deal. Now Marcus finally decided to play ball, and is getting his big deal.

by Neoplatonist Bolthead (not verified) :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 4:45pm

Dombrowski's play forced McNeill's hand in getting him to sign. He saw that he could improve the offense, and that it would be good without him. I think you're right that Dombrowski's mistakes weren't a factor: yes, he's been inconsistent, but the offense has been good anyway, and he had good games against Tamba Hali and Aaron Maybin. The Chargers are just operating according to plan. McNeill is back, and he's getting his money... most of it.

by Thok :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 11:44am

Speaking of hard negotiations with the Chargers, is it worth dropping Vincent Jackson from my fantasy team yet or should I wait another couple of weeks?

(I took a last round flier on him, on the theory that half a season of Vincent Jackson is easily worth a 15th round pick.)

by Neoplatonist Bolthead (not verified) :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 4:54pm

He will not suit up in lightning bolts this year. There exists a very, very scant possibility of a trade before the deadline, but that is very unlikely. Next year, they'll tender him for a first-and-third again, and VJ will probably get a three-way deal done as part of a trade, once everybody knows a little more about how much a "draft pick" is worth. If there is no deal, well, the crystal ball is cloudy.

The CBA situation favors AJ strongly. Jackson's case is more-or-less sui generis right now, and he can easily be left hanging with a grandfather clause. The Chargers are one of only thirty-two NFL teams, so one side of the table will have a strong incentive to win this one. To the NFLPA, Jackson is one constituent among thousands. Who's going to win that round, really? Jackson's brothers in arms have all folded except Mankins, and one gets the feeling that he'll fold too, now that McNeill is getting a deal. But Jackson can't fall back into the arms of the establishment: even if he signs after the trade deadline, he'll be playing multiple road games in open stadiums in December for peanuts, just to keep AJ's hand out of the trade situation.

by speedegg :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 6:14pm

I thought Jackson said he's prepared to sit out this year, but is planning to sign his tender, serve his team suspension, then play the last 6 games. He'll accrue the minimum needed for this year, then be a free agent CBA permitting.

I didn't think Jackson would sit out the entire year, since that would screw up next year. A new CBA might not slap the same restrictions on him, but that's a big risk to take and better to be free and clear next year.

by Boo-urns (not verified) :: Wed, 10/13/2010 - 12:20pm

The most likely scenario, imo. Much like Mankins, V-Jax will probably report for the last 6 games, just to accrue that last year of playing time. No one knows what will happen in the CBA renegotiation, so the risk-averse action is for V-Jax to report and get that 6th year recorded.

Smith has shown no inclination to trade V-Jax, probably because he's "sending a message" (what that message is, I don't know, other than maybe "veteran players should not come here unless we overpay you by a ton and give you lots of guaranteed money to boot" or "Eli Manning was right"). And V-Jax will almost certainly go through hoops to make sure that he signs with another team (shades of the Vikings signing of restricted FA Steve Hutchinson) and that his contract is backloaded so the Chargers get the least possible draft pick compensation.

Whether or not V-Jax actually plays, who knows?

But Neoplatonist's scenario is about as implausible as I can imagine. V-Jax would have to literally be retarded to put himself into the same situation next year, when all he has to do is report for the last 6 games.

by perly :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 11:34pm

AJ, is that you?

Jackson will have either 5 or 6 accrued years at the end of the season depending on whether he reports or not. Crafting a new CBA that restricts his FA rights isn't bearing down on a constituency of one; rather, it affects the entire draft classes of 2007 and 2006--and that's if it's only a grandfather rule. Of all the possible scenarios that could accompany a new CBA, the NFLPA agreeing to a 6-year rule for unrestricted free agency (especially in light of the proposed rookie cap and 18-game season) is unlikely to the point of preposterousness.

If the Chargers want to keep Jackson, they'll need to franchise him, and that's going to an incredibly bitter pill to swallow in 2011--given the frontloaded extensions given to Andre Johnson, Brandon Marshall and Miles Austin this year, as well as the broader economic climate and contentiousness of revenue sharing, in 2011 vs. 2009, the tenders are going to be higher and the cap is going to be lower. Unless the Chargers' primary goal is suppressing Jacksons' career earnings, it's hard to see how they win this one.

The bright side? Nothing Smith does wrt Jackson will ever be as inane as the Chris Chambers trade. So at least there's that, huh?

by Boo-urns (not verified) :: Wed, 10/13/2010 - 12:28pm

Jackson won't sign, he'll just report for the last 6 games, get his service time in, and (assuming the CBA doesn't change or that it changes to reduce the service time required for FA), be a restricted FA next year.

As far as playing for peanuts, that's short-sighted. V-Jax will be playing for the chance to hit the open market next year, which is worth tens of millions to him. There's very little reason I can think of why V-Jax would not report.

And as far as your grandfather clause (which would apply to 2 players only), 1) I think you're underestimating how much the NFLPA cares about these two players, since they're so symbolic; and 2) I think you're also underestimating how vulnerable the NFL is to an antitrust suit. If the NFLPA allows the NFL to strongarm a CBA that targets two players, those two players have a legitimate breach of fiduciary duty claim against the NFLPA, and most likely will be able to proceed to sue the NFL. And I think that would pretty much open up Pandora's box, because the NFL is extremely vulnerable to an antitrust suit (see, e.g., all recent appellate or Supreme Court cases involving the NFL). Why the NFL would care enough about making an example out of Mankins and V-Jax (Belichick probably is fine with letting Mankins go with appropriate draft pick compensation, and AJ Smith is the clown prince of the NFL) to risk destroying their entire structure of salary caps, etc., is beyond me.

On the other hand, I don't understand why the NFL is planning to do a lockout next year, in the middle of a bad recession, either. So maybe you're right on board with their looney-tunes strategy.