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It seems hard to believe that as highly thought of as Marcus McNeill was as recently as two years ago, the 28-year-old tackle could wind up not being signed by anybody in 2012.
McNeill was a second-round draft pick of the San Diego Chargers in 2006, and he was named to the Pro Bowl in both 2006 and 2007. McNeill held out from San Diego, but the two sides eventually worked out a new deal in 2010 for six years and $48.9 million.
But the 2011 season was a disaster. It started with two operations on his knee, and then he injured his neck in the 2011 season, which resulted in him going on injured reserve. The Chargers brought in Jared Gaither to replace him, and just like that McNeill was expendable. San Diego made it official when it released McNeill from his contract on March 13.
In the 2012 offseason he visited with teams such as Atlanta, Detroit and Kansas City, but all three teams passed on him. Teams with left tackle issues like the Minnesota Vikings (Matt Kalil) and Buffalo Bills (Cordy Glenn) drafted rookies at the position, while the Philadelphia Eagles signed Demetress Bell, who is also 28 years old. That could have been the last solid chance McNeill had for employment this year.
If the 2012 season comes and goes without a job, maybe that is not a terrible thing for McNeill. He would be able to gain full health and rest up for a year, but he will need to stay in shape. Teams will still monitor him with an eye towards 2013. If he spends the year on the couch and gains 50 pounds, that speaks volumes about his desire to still play in the NFL.