We had a good race in this week’s “you pick it” competition.
However, the readers have decided the craziness in San Diego is the winner. Star left tackle Marcus McNeill and Pro Bowl receiver Vincent Jackson didn’t sign their restricted free-agent tenders by this week’s deadline and the Chargers lowered their 2010 salaries. San Diego signed tackle Tra Thomas and receiver Josh Reed as insurance for the potential hold outs.
I agree with the readers about the San Diego angle. The Chargers will not be nearly as dangerous without these two players. This story has a long way to develop and many things can still happen, but this is big.
Below are some of your responses. Thanks to everyone who participated.
Joshua Crook from Milwaukee: As much as I think Oakland's signing of John Henderson is huge, (pun intended) the contract fallout in S.D. takes this week again.Without S.D.'s most valuable assets they will have a tough time in 2010. I'm sure these guys will eventually sign, but I am assured that they have polarized the locker room by now. If these players were practicing, the Chargers are on their way down. This could mark the beginning of the end for their title chances and I'm thrilled!
Jake from Phoenix: Though as a Raiders fan I'm excited about John Henderson's signing, the big story is the Chargers preparing to move on without VJack and McNeill. Jackson is likely the best receiver in the division, and may have been even when Marshall was still a Donkey.McNeill, though is the bigger story, IMO. Here's a legit LT stud who's started from the moment he set foot in the NFL. This guy lets your mouthy QB yap to his heart's content. Edge rushers like Elvis Dumerville, Tamba Hali, and Trevor Scott are hoping A.J. stays stubborn so they can motor around Tra Thomas and smack Phyllis Rivers in his mouth.With VJack and McNeill the Chargers are one of the top 3 teams in the league. Without them, they might not sniff the playoffs. A.J. Smith's hardline with two of his most important players could have a huge impact on the upcoming season, and his employment with the Chargers.
Tim H. from Berkeley, Calif.: The storyline of the week for the AFC West most certainly has to be the Raiders addition of DT John Henderson. Although the holdouts in SD can potentially benefit the entire division, I still see them as a playoff team without those two. The Raiders, on the other hand, are on the cusp of a wildcard birth or a 1st place finish in the division. We still lack ideal bodies on the offensive line, but with the addition of Henderson to fill out the front 4, Oakland's defense looks downright scary. Add him to the already growing list of superstars we are developing on defense, and I think it's a perfect fit. He brings veteran savy to a youthful defense with loads of potential. I predict a top 10 finish for Oakland's D this year. Autumn winds bringing a change...
James from Wilmington, N.C.: Even as a Raiders fan, I have to say that San Diego signing stopgaps for Jackson and McNeill to be the storyline this week. This seemed to be the year the stars aligned for a Chargers Superbowl and suddenly two important cogs of the well oiled SD offense threaten to hold out. I won't shed any tears, but I can only imagine how frustrating this is for Chargers fans
Kevin from Lebanon, Ore.: As a Raider's Fan, I love the John Henderson signing, it for a year and they don't pay him a ton. He could really benefit this team. However the story is the Chargers situation. I have said it before in this forum, but this time its over. The Chargers will most likely win the AFC west without Jackson and McNeil, but the Super Bowl dream just ended. I see Tra Thomas not playing the whole season, in which case Phillip Rivers blindside becomes a freeway. If Rivers gets hurt, then the team blames McNeil and Jackson and why not A.J. Smith also. I don't see any way that the Chargers make it to the Super Bowl, which will be a major failure for the season, and the consequences of all of these actions could internally tear the team apart. Oh and by the way, Thanks Chargers! Go Raiders!
Kenny D. from Phoenix., Ariz.: The Thomas/Reed signings are the big story. Salary issues have to boil over to the locker room. With experience and teamwork so important on the o-line and at WR, VJax and McNeill are not easily replaced. Even if they do come back, do they restore faith from their teammates? It's a big distraction for the Dolts - one that the Broncos, McD and, fortunately, Dumervil have been working to avoid
Spencer from Oakland: As a Raiders fan, you've got to love the signing of John Henderson. First, it's a 1 year deal in an uncapped year. Second, it's not like we're going to ask him to be an every down DT. He'll be a situational run stopper - essentially a big body to free up our ends and OLBs. If he's not working out well in training camp, he's easily expendable, but I've got a feeling this guy is going to make some plays for a defense that has been making the correct moves to shore up a notoriously poor run defense. This signing is a much better move than the alternative (a trade for Haynesworth).
Ryan X. Allred from Lynnwood, Wash.: Without a doubt the holdout of Marcus McNeill and Vincent Jackson, and the reaction of the Charges organization to this situation is the biggest story in the AFC West. The Charges were and still are the clear division favorites, but the loss of these two outstanding players has allowed the rest of the AFC West to close the gap some. The stubbornness of the Charges organization in these matters will be noteworthy in future player negotiations. This may be the beginning of the end of their reign atop the AFC West.
Nick from N.Y., N.Y.: Has to be Jackson and McNeill staying away from SD. These are two cornerstone players on a perennial contender. Jackson is arguably the most important player on that offense aside from Philip Rivers. Josh Reed isn't going to come in and be that type of receiver, and I don't think Malcolm Floyd has the ability Jackson has. McNeill protects the blind side of Rivers, and I don't expect Tra Thomas to be able to hold up in protection the way McNeill can. I think Smith is making a mistake in not negotiating with these guys. These aren't declining players on a rebuilding team. They are players in their prime on a team that has it's open postseason window right now.
Mike from Las Vegas: The story of the week is Doom signing his tender, even though I think the story with SD players holding out is a big deal, I still believe that Dumervil signing his contract is a good leap of faith, with Josh McDaniels. Josh "The Kid" McDaniels is one of the most unpredictable coaches in the league, so only time will tell if Elvis gets his new contract, or is just playing a year for dirt cheap.
Alvaro from Rosarito Beach: It's all about the Chargers and the Vincent Jackson-Marcus Mcneill situation. AJ Smith can say what he wants, but there is a reason why San Diego moved from being LT's team to River's team, and it was the air atack. Now, after doing that, you're not gonna assure that Phillip gets his weapon and protection??Look, you can say that AJ is a tough negotiator and what not, but really, after a couple of season failures, we have to begin to question just how much AJ is compromise to winning and how much is he compromise to being right.A lot has being said about the teams inhability to win or they're window of oportunity closing, but for me, after a couple of decision made, i think that the person in the hot seat, is AJ Smith.
Tom from Dayton, Ore.: Easily San Diego preparing to move on w/out Jackson and McNiel. Those are 2 studs and w/out them San Diego goes from a dynamic offense to an average offense w/ a great QB/TE. San Diego will have to rely more on the run game and even though good things are expected from Mathews he still has to produce on the field not on paper. As a Raiders fan I sure hope A.J. Smith, Vincent Jackson and Marcus McNiel all stand their ground and we don't see them on the field 'til week 10.
Travis from Witchita, Kan.: The storyline of the week has to be the Chargers' Movement. I think that to a certain degree you have to respect AJ Smith, however, without Jackson or McNeill I think this team is severely handicapped. Without those two players this team goes from Superbowl Contender to Playoff hopeful.
Big Mike fromPrairie View, Texas: Henderson to the raiders is huge. Him an Tommy Kelly give me nostalgic feelings for the days of Henderson and Stroud in Jacksonville. That front seven could be very nasty for Mathews, Moreno, and Charles this year. I would have liked to see them acquire Henderson when they sent Morrison though.
Joe from San Francisco: The Raiders signing John Henderson has to be the storyline of the week. The Raiders continue to have a great off season. Bringing in a veteran like Henderson will help the young guys to develop and it will really help the defense stop the run. They have not gone out and over spent for guys but have brought in quality players that will help the team. This is a GREAT move!!!