Big Question: Will A.J. Smith cave?

June, 29, 2010
6/29/10
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San Diego's Marcus McNeill and Vincent Jackson may stage contract holdouts. Is there a chance San Diego general manager A.J. Smith will cave in and give the two players new contracts to avoid the holdouts?

[+] EnlargeAJ Smith 100627
AP Photo/Denis PoroyExpect Chargers general manager A.J. Smith to play hardball with holdouts Marcus McNeill and Vincent Jackson.
Let’s get to the meat of this quickly. I don’t see any chance that Smith will give in to these two guys.

I think that is the big reason why there is such a dire feel here. I believe everyone involved realizes that Smith is ready to play hardball.

This is a man who doesn’t blink.

If we get to early September and McNeill, a standout left tackle, and Jackson, a Pro Bowl receiver, are still staying away, Smith will simply move forward.

Jackson is well aware that Smith is entrenched and knows if he does stay away from the team (which he plans to do) Smith will be ready for a fight.

There is little chance Smith will give McNeill and Jackson new contracts before training camp to avoid this mess. His stance: If these players don’t want to play for him, he doesn’t want them to play for him.

That’s why he signed Tra Thomas as insurance for a McNeill holdout and Josh Reed as insurance for a Jackson holdout. That’s why when McNeill and Jackson didn’t sign their restricted free-agency tenders by the deadline, Smith said things like “we lost two players today.” He acted as if McNeill and Smith left the league. And if they hold out, they might as well leave the league as far as Smith is concerned.

Smith is a calculated, smart man who is not going to be bullied. He is going to fight his fight.

So, if you think Smith will cave, think again. It won’t happen.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN Oakland Raiders reporter

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