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Chargers agree to terms on Hardwick deal, release McNeill

The San Diego Chargers agreed to a three-year contract with center Nick Hardwick shortly before he was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent.

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Hardwick's deal is for a maximum of $13.5 million with $6.5 million guaranteed, a league source told NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora.

Also Tuesday, the Chargers released left tackle Marcus McNeill due to a history of neck injuries and to clear cap space. There's still a chance the Chargers could re-sign McNeill, a second-round draft pick in 2006 who played in two Pro Bowls. McNeill missed the final seven games of 2011 with a neck injury.

The Chargers would like to re-sign left tackle Jared Gaither, who helped stabilize the line the last five games after he was waived by the Kansas City Chiefs. Gaither is set to become an unrestricted free agent.

Keeping Hardwick is huge after left guard Kris Dielman retired due to the effects of a concussion. Hardwick has been a starter since his rookie season of 2004.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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