There are no hard feelings between the San Diego Chargers and Marcus McNeill, just a five-year contract extension.
"Marcus is a extremely talented player," Chargers general manager A.J. Smith said in a statement released by the team. "We look forward to him being an integral part of our offensive line for years to come."
McNeill received an extension that runs through the 2015 season, and league sources told NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora the deal could be worth as much as $48.5 million. The deal includes roughly $24 million in potentially guaranteed money, but it's only for injury, and not skill-performance, and is on a year-to-year basis, a source said.
In total, McNeill will make $2.2 million in 2010, including a $1.8 million signing bonus, and $10 million in 2011, which is guaranted if he's hurt in 2010, a source said. If the Chargers opt to keep McNeill on the roster at the start of the 2012 season, then his $10.5 million salary becomes guaranteed for skill, salary-cap and injury purposes for that year. The contract's remaining base salaries are $7.7 million, $8.75 million and $9.75 million.
Both sides made concessions, and both sides gained some flexibility.
The guaranteed contract language is similar to other recent deals, the difference being that many of those contracts had immediate signing bonuses that paid out $10 million to $20 million more in upfront money. McNeill's pact could end up being a two-year, $12.2 million deal, with the Chargers able to move on after 2011 should the lineman's performance slip. Given McNeill's lack of leverage, that's much more than he had available to him a few days ago, when he was looking at making $400,000 on a prorated portion of his tender for the balance of the 2010 season and had no assurances if he sustained an injury.
If McNeill continues to perform well, even if the Chargers release him, he would then be an unrestricted free agent.
It took a holdout, a team-imposed suspension and having his pay initially slashed for this season to reach this point, but McNeill doesn't regret it.
"I think we handled it the best way it could have been," McNeill said after practice Wednesday, a few hours before the deal was announced. "Of course, you have other decisions that you could have made, but now that I'm getting my deal and everything is going the right way, I feel like everything was pretty productive. I would have rather been out there the first five games, but sometimes the business side of it takes its course, and that's what happened this time."
Because this is an uncapped season, McNeill was a restricted free agent even though his original four-year contract expired after last season. When he didn't sign his one-year, $3.168 million tender by June 15, the Chargers reduced the amount to 110 percent of his 2009 salary, or $630,000. McNeill sat out training camp and the first two games before signing the tender.
When McNeill did sign the tender, he had to sit out three games because The Chargers had placed him on the roster-exempt list.
Second-year pro Brandyn Dombrowski replaced McNeill at left tackle, having some good games and some bad ones in protecting quarterback Philip Rivers' blind side.
McNeill is expected to play Sunday at St. Louis, but he might not start.
"I'm not completely back in the starting unit yet," McNeill said. "I have a long way to go. I want to make sure my footwork and all my technique is completely salvageable before I step out on the field. There would be nothing worse than me to get out there unprepared and unready and trying to be protecting Philip's blind side. You can't have that, so me and Dombrowski definitely are going to go back and forth on everything to make sure everything is right before I get a chance to step back into that starting position."
The Chargers still have one holdout. Pro Bowl wide receiver Vincent Jackson also wants a long-term contract and has vowed to skip the season if he doesn't receive one.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.