The decision of the San Diego Chargers to sign veteran tackle Tra Thomas comes not from a desire to add depth to the rotation.
Instead, Thomas apparently represents insurance against the strong possibility that current left tackle Marcus McNeill will hold out into the 2010 regular season.
“It’s my understanding we have lost the services of both [left tackle] Marcus [McNeill] and
[receiver] Vincent [Jackson] for a considerable length of time,” General Manager A.J. Smith
said Thursday, per Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune. “I certainly am taking them at their word. Therefore, I felt it
was in our best interest to act quickly and secure a veteran left
tackle. Tra is a talented player that brings us a wealth of starting
experience. He will be added to the mix, and we will go from there.”
Of course, if Smith truly is taking both players at their word, he’d also be signing receiver Terrell Owens. Until Smith does, we’ll conclude that he’s simply playing games.
Of the two high-profile unsigned Chargers, Jackson is the one more likely to hold out. Indications we’ve picked up suggest his camp is unfazed by the looming (as of Tuesday) decrease in his tender offer to 110 percent of his 2009 base salary, and that Jackson likewise has no qualms about holding out into the season because he expects to be suspended for at least two games in the wake of his second DUI guilty plea.
As to McNeill, we suspect he’ll flinch by Tuesday and sign his tender. Though he may hold out thereafter, it won’t be for long. If he’s under contract and if he stays out beyond August 10, he’ll lose a year of service toward unrestricted free agency.
The arrival of Thomas possibly represents the straw that will cause McNeill and agent Alvin Keels to ink the tender.
Now, please allow us to get our popcorn ready for the next step in the tug-o-war between the Chargers and Jackson, which if Smith is serious should involve adding the guy who’ll then tell us to get our popcorn ready.