San Diego Chargers left tackle Marcus McNeill finally signed his one-year restricted tender Saturday, clearing the way for him to return to the team. He will have to sit out three weeks because of his holdout, since the team was forced to put him on the roster exempt list, but he will be able to play in Week Six against the St. Louis Rams.
So what does it mean now that McNeill is finally back with the team? Well it likely means that the Chargers will sit down and try to work out a long-term deal with the two-time Pro Bowl left tackle.
Unlike the situation with holdout wide receiver Vincent Jackson, the impasse with McNeill has never gotten ugly or been dragged out in public. The Chargers reportedly have always had McNeill in their long-term plans as they clearly feel he’s not as easily replaceable as Jackson is.
The 26-year-old out of Auburn did the right thing for his future by getting back in the fold with the Chargers. Philip Rivers needs McNeill to protect his blind side, and you know Rivers will fight for McNeill to get a big deal because he trusts him.
The major investment the Bolts made in Rivers last year (six years, $92 million) needs a few supporting investments to keep him healthy and happy. McNeill is one of those investments. Jackson would have been another one, but that situation seems too far gone for anyone to rectify it.
It will be interesting to see if the Chargers move quickly to ink McNeill to a long-term extension. It might be a week or two after he’s finally back on the field, but it looks like the direction things are headed.