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.
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.