Marcus McNeill is a mauler. Just look at him. I wouldn't want to fight him, much less try to edge rush against him, would you?
I didn't think so.
This monster of a man, as everyone knows, remains off the field as his holdout for a long term contract continues.
Many, many people have said it already, so this sentiment will feel reused, but here goes nothing. It is time for AJ Smith to swallow his pride and give McNeill a long term deal.
McNeill has a couple things going for him that make him absolutely essential to this team.
The Insurance Policy
McNeill is a Pro Bowl Left Tackle. He is worth the money because he plays one of the most important positions in football.
Think of it this way: Without Philip Rivers, the Chargers are not a Super Bowl team. Without Marcus McNeill, Rivers is under constant threat of blind-side hits. Without the left side of the line locked down, Rivers runs a higher risk of getting injured.
McNeill needs to be there to keep Rivers healthy.
The reason why it has to be McNeill is because there really is no one behind him. Offensive Tackle is a weak position for the Chargers. Jeromey Clary and Brandyn Dombrowski are locked in to the RT spot, which leaves four undrafted rookie free agents and one two year practice squader to fill for the LT spot.
If McNeill continues his holdout through the regular season, this could get ugly. Dombrowski has proven he can be a capable RT replacement, but LT is a whole different game.
The Chargers did a lot of house cleaning at the beginning of the offseason. Trading Cromartie and cutting LT and Jamal Williams freed up a lot of cap space. There is no reason then, why AJ Smith can't open up the checkbook for a player of McNeill's caliber.
San Diego cleared house in the offseason to make room for guys like McNeill. There is no reason to play hardball like this when you can shell out the proper money for a guy like Marcus McNeill.
Why McNeill is Different From Vincent Jackson
McNeill needs a long term deal more than Vincent Jackson. McNeill plays a more essential role and has no off field issues.
Jackson is becoming a bit of a liability with his drinking and driving issues. While his talent can earn him a pass, the patience of the Chargers' brass may be wearing thin.
Jackson is also less essential than most people think. While he is one of the best receivers in the game right now, there are plenty of talented WRs on the roster.
AJ Smith will play hardball as long as he can, and a lot of people are going to question his effectiveness as the GM in San Diego. However, I expect a long term deal for McNeill to be worked out in the next month or two simply because he is so important to the team.
It's time the Chargers wrap up their RFA situation like the rest of the teams in the league, or they could face a rough start in 2010.