Chargers G.M. A.J. Smith doesn’t do much of two things: talk or smile. Mike Silver of Yahoo! Sports got Smith to engage in one of those activities.
Here’s a hint — no feathers were harmed in the preparation of Silver’s latest article.
Smith opened up, uncharacteristically, about the fact that left tackle Marcus McNeill and receiver Vincent Jackson remain unsigned.
“It hurts,” Smith told Silver. “It hurts when you don’t have your players. How
are you going to win a championship without your left tackle and your
wideout? I’m sick about it. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how
anybody could be more upset about this than me.”
Um, A.J.? You don’t know what to do? For starters, you could quit hiding behind the supposed uncertainty arising from the lack of a new labor deal and offer fair contracts to your core players.
We’ve already made clear our frustration regarding Smith’s cake-and-eat-it method with Jackson, whom Smith won’t pay and won’t trade. Meanwhile, Smith squeezed both men, dropping their restricted free agency tenders dramatically as of June 15. Not because Smith had to, but because he could.
“Our position now with the labor unrest is we’re going to shut it down
and take it slow,” Smith said. “We’re on hold right now. We’re not the
lone ranger, but we’re on hold. It’s not forever. I don’t know when we
will or when we won’t [start giving out contract extensions]. There is a
long list of players in line for them. It’s the longest I’ve ever
Yeah, and the fact that quarterback Philip Rivers got one shows that teams can do it, if they so choose.
The Chargers failure to load the cannon for a crack at a championship makes us continue to wonder whether they’re simply taking one for the good of the league. Smith’s decision to point out that his team isn’t “the lone ranger” could be interpreted by the NFLPA as an acknowledgment that teams have decided — expressly or implicitly — to hold off on giving out big-money long-term deals, since the up-front money will help the players who receive the long-term deals pay their bills during a work stoppage. Indeed, the owners would have less money in their own coffers when the locks go on the gates if they start plunking down big-money signing bonuses now.
Meanwhile, that collusion case builds, little by little.