By News 8's Sports Director Kyle Kraska
If we've learned anything, or perhaps were reminded of anything this week at Chargers Park it's that trying to corner Chargers' GM A.J. Smith into extending a players' contract is as productive as driving the wrong way on the I-15 during rush hour.
Left tackle Marcus McNeill certainly learned that lessen, albeit about 10 weeks too late. McNeill held out of training camp, the pre-season and essentially, five games of the regular season trying to force Smith's hand and get the contract extension he sought.
His logic was that the risk of injury was too great with just one year left until free agency. He figured his impressive resume and work ethic was worthy of a rich reward. But what he didn't factor in is the fact that A.J. was perfectly aware of all this and the payday would come. But A.J. is the boss and wants things done his way on his timeline. Had McNeill reported to camp, the deal would've gotten done before the first snap of the preseason.
McNeill did end his holdout, got back to work and got rewarded with a new 5-year contract extension.
With that mentality in mind, it's easy to see why the head-strong attitudes of Vincent Jackson and Shawne Merriman just didn't work on a team run by A.J. Smith. When you try to show Smith who's boss, you eventually find out who really is.
Merriman is finished as a San Diego Charger. He has worn the uniform for the final time. Vincent Jackson has not. He will return this season, but will only be paid the bare minimum and only to accrue another year insuring that next year he will be an unrestricted free agent.
Lessen learned? We'll see. Will the next Charger player looking for a contract extension go about it A.J.'s way or go the wrong way on that freeway?