Holdouts may impact Chargers' season

ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting that Chargers’ offensive stars, receiver Vincent Jackson and left tackle Marcus McNeill, are planning long hold outs.

That correlates with everything I’ve heard and read over the past several weeks.

It seems Jackson and McNeill mean business if they don’t get long-term deals. The Chargers are not yet interested in giving them such a deal. In fact San Diego is threatening to lower their offer to the two players next Tuesday if they don’t sign their restricted free agent tenders.

If nothing changes, I expect both of these two players to miss time well into training camp. I get the feeling Jackson is prepared to sit out well into the season.

This situation truly could get ugly. San Diego general manager A.J. Smith is not one to be toyed with. He won’t blink. If a player wants to sit because of finances, Smith is not going to be backed into a corner. Smith, who will have to soon pay star tight end Antonio Gates, has a reputation around the league for taking care of his own players. But he does it on his own terms. He will not be intimidated into paying anyone.

If these players hold out, Smith will simply move on without them. I know Jackson knows that. It sounds like McNeill is aware of the stakes as well.

Jackson seems prepared for a lengthy holdout without much worry that it will hurt his future. Remember, three players –- Sam Bradford, Jermaine Gresham and Dez Bryant -– were all drafted in the first round this spring despite not playing at all or playing very little in 2009. Thus, Jackson isn’t worried that his value on the free agent market will be adversely affected in 2011 by not playing in 2010.

It would be a shame if the Chargers’ 2010 season is affected by holdouts. This is a team with serious Super Bowl designs, but if Jackson and McNeill miss significant time their hopes will take a big hit.

A lot can happen between now and the start of the season, but as of now, it seems like two of San Diego’s better players are poised to fight for a long-term deal by any means.