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Cloud of holdouts will hang over game

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, Aug 13, 2010.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006

    Originally published August 13, 2010 at 10:38 p.m., updated August 14, 2010 at 12:02 a.m

    Even as they go through training camp genuinely pleased to have who they have on the field and in the locker room, Chargers players are wary.
    They’ll line up with Brandyn Dombrowski, Tra Thomas, Tyronne Green or whoever else the Chargers might throw out there to protect the blindside of their quarterback and leader. They’ll be supportive and do whatever it takes to try to win a fifth straight AFC West title and get an elusive ring.
    However, there is no denying a leeriness exists.
    “We’ll see Saturday,” said one Chargers player, echoing a somewhat hopeful and tiny-bit skeptical wait-and-see sentiment heard in several corners of the locker room.
    Yes, tonight, against the Chicago Bears and defensive end Julius Peppers, who signed a six-year, $91.5 million contract in March, the Chargers will play their first game since September 2008 without two-time Pro Bowl left tackle Marcus McNeill protecting the side of Philip Rivers that the quarterback most often can’t see.
    Dombrowski is the presumed starter tonight and going into the season.
    It is just an exhibition, and the plan is for Rivers to be on the sideline coaching by the second quarter.
    But if, in his dozen or so snaps, Rivers is so much as sneezed on by a Bears player, it is certain that boos will cascade down on the field and also float into the suite where Chargers General Manager A.J. Smith will be watching intently.
    And unless there is a tectonic shift in the way Smith has always done business, it will not make a bit of difference.
    While Smith has declined to comment on McNeill or Pro Bowl wide receiver Vincent Jackson since the second day of training camp, he essentially sent a message that was received Friday that he is not going soft.
    According to league sources, Jackson and McNeill have received letters informing them the Chargers intend to place them on the Roster Exempt List if they do not sign their tenders by midnight Aug. 20, the day before the Chargers’ second preseason game.
    A player on the Roster Exempt List must sit out three games after the date he signs.
    The Chargers used the tactic with center Jason Ball in 2004 and as a means to end tight end Antonio Gates’ 2005 holdout.
    Such a quick resolution is unlikely with Jackson or McNeill, according to sources.
    McNeill and Jackson have skipped the entire offseason and have not reported to camp. Unhappy with their contract status, they do not want to risk injury. And sources close to the players maintain they are preparing to sit out the entire season.
    However, there exists the possibility one or both could report after the Chargers’ 10th game and be on the roster for the six games required to earn an accrued season.
    With the latest development, if they fail to sign by Aug. 20, which is virtually certain, and are placed on the list, McNeill and Jackson would have to report by Week 8 in order to get their six games and accrued season. A player on the Roster Exempt List can practice with the team but does not take up a roster spot and can’t play until their fourth game back after signing.
    McNeill and Jackson were due to be unrestricted free agents this past offseason, which would have allowed them to sign with any club and receive the long-term contracts they desire. But with 2010 being the final season under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, the requirement for becoming unrestricted rose from four years of service to six.
    On June 15, the Chargers lowered their one-year tender offers to Jackson and McNeill to 110 percent of their 2009 salaries — from $3.268 million to $583,000 for Jackson, and from $3.168 million to $630,000 for McNeill.
    Of the 10 restricted free agents who had not signed on June 15, just four remain unsigned — the two Chargers players, Kansas City safety Jarrad Page and New England guard Logan Mankins.
    Mankins’ agent told the Boston Globe on Friday that he expects the Patriots to send Mankins a letter informing him of their intent to place him on the Roster Exempt List as well.
    While the move by the Chargers could either bring in Jackson and/or McNeill early or cause them to decide to not play in 2010, it could also have neither effect.
    Sources close to the players have said for some time Jackson and McNeill are leaning toward not playing at all in 2010, because their belief is that a new Collective Bargaining Agreement will revert to a requirement of four years for unrestricted free agency status. Jackson has five years, McNeill four.
    While many around the league expect the requirement to go back to four years, there is additional risk for Jackson and McNeill in making an assumption they will be unrestricted after this season.
    An article in the Collective Bargaining Agreement states that if a restricted free agent does not play in a League Year, his prior team would have the right to tender him as a restricted free agent in the following League Year.
    The Chargers would certainly argue that provision ties Jackson and McNeill to them in 2011 (or whenever the next season begins if there is a lockout after 2010). The Chargers would say that the rules in effect when the players sat out stated that the team retained their rights for the following League Year.
    The NFL Players Association has not responded to a request for clarification on its interpretation. Several agents said this week they expect the union would argue an RFA that had enough accrued seasons to be unrestricted under the new CBA would not be subject to that article.
    While all that remains to be worked out in negotiations between the NFL and the union, the Chargers and their fans will see what unfolds over the next six days and beyond.
    It begins with the first time Rivers drops back to pass tonight.
  2. Retired Catholic

    Retired Catholic BoltTalker

    Aug 3, 2006
    This just shows how badly these guys and their agents have miscalculated. If they get only those three games in, the only dispute is going to be whether they sign the NEXT RFA TENDER. The seasons accrued rule isn't that vague.

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