Charging in: the McNeill deal

The Chargers do what the do, unconcerned about player and agent discontent in their sometimes-contentious negotiations. With two notable holdouts throughout the offseason, that number is down to one (Vincent Jackson) as they got an important piece of business done for the long-term.

Left tackle Marcus McNeill became the third-to-last player in the NFL brought under contract this season (only Jackson and Patriot Logan Mankins remain unsigned) when McNeill (1) signed his one-year tender of $630,000 after his request to the Chargers to restore the original tender ($3.168 million) was rejected, and (2) inked a five-year extension through 2015. Let’s take a year-by-year look at the new deal, one that appeared to be in the works when McNeill finally reported for duty a few weeks ago:


McNeill’s scheduled 2010 salary of $630,000 would have been prorated over the 12 weeks left in the season -- after his roster-exempt suspension -- to $444,700.

The Chargers added $1.8 million to this season, giving McNeill a total 2010 salary of $2.24M. In other words, the Chargers did exactly what McNeill had requested weeks ago: they adjusted his 2010 compensation to the old tender of $3.168 million. That number prorated over the remaining 12 weeks of the season is that $2.24 million.

Thus, for all that has gone on this year between McNeill and the Chargers, they are now where they were in March with the tender, albeit only 12 weeks worth.


McNeill has a $10 million guarantee on the third day of the 2011 League Year, paid out $5 million as an advance and $5 million over the season. On that day, the $10 million is fully guaranteed for skill, injury and cap. Thus, for the remainder of this season and all of next season, McNeill will earn an additional $11.8 million in additional money.

Had McNeill not signed, played for $444,700 in 2010 and been give the Franchise tag number of approximately $10 million in 2011, his compensation through the end of 2011 would be $10.44 million. Now, his compensation for that time frame is $12.24 million, with $11.8 million of “new money” over the time frame.

As the $10 million is not guaranteed until the third day of the 2011 League Year – whenever that may be -- were the Chargers to release McNeill prior to the that, they would have given him an additional $1.8 million to restore him to his original one-year tender and then made him a free agent.


McNeill has a $10.5 million guarantee on the third day of the 2012 League Year, paid out as $5.25 million in advance money and $5.25 million over the season. The $10.5 million is guaranteed for injury only. Thus, for the remainder of this season and two more, McNeill has a payout of $22.3M of new money.

As the $10.5 million is not guaranteed until the third day of the 2012 League Year, were the Chargers to release McNeill prior to that, they would have paid him $11.8 million of new money for the time frame before allowing him to be a free agent in 2012.

The “out “ years

Although these numbers lack meaning beyond the guarantee, here is the remainder of the contract (in millions):

2013 7.75 (1.75 million guaranteed for injury only)
2014 8.75
2015 9.75

The total value of the extension is thus six years for $49 million, of which $48.55 million is “new money” beyond the $444,700 that McNeill was scheduled to make.


The concept of “rolling guarantees” -- guarantees that kick in not at the time of signing but rather at the start of next year’s League year (and beyond) -- have become vogue in this uncapped year. Technically, these deals – McNeill, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Elvis Dumervil – are only additions of money for this season. The teams can release all of these players prior to the beginning of next year without liability for the large guarantees, in McNeill’s case an additional $22.25 million guaranteed.

Would the Chargers/Jets/Broncos actually release McNeill/Ferguson/Dumervil before the first couple of days of the 2011 League Year? In theory, they could. In practice, they would lose any semblance of trust with their players.

Recent comparables

McNeil’s structure is extremely similar to that of the deal done by Denver with Elvis Dumervil, although Dumervil has almost twice the amount ($43 million) of “rolling guarantee”.

McNeill’s guarantee pales to that of the other recent top-of-market tackle, the Jets’ Ferguson ($34 million) but does have much more guaranteed for skill, injury and Cap whereas Ferguson’s entire guarantee is for skill only.

McNeill was also advised/encouraged to report to the Chargers by the NFL Players Association -- as have been Jackson and Mankins -- as to not throw any wrenches in the overall objectives of the union in negotiating free agency issues in the CBA negotiations.

Charging ahead

As I have often said, no team in the NFL was more advantaged by the uncapped year than the San Diego Chargers. Due to the rules of this year, they had no need to compete for players that in any other year would have had bidding from several teams. Those players included Shawne Merriman, McNeill, Vincent Jackson, Darren Sproles and Malcolm Floyd. Shawne Merriman will be gone within a week or two; Vincent Jackson will be gone after this season; Sproles and Floyd are playing on their one-year tenders allowing the team to continue to evaluate their long-term worth.

It is Marcus McNeill that has shaken out with a long-term deal with the team, albeit with some bumps along the way to signing.

Follow me on Twitter at adbrandt.

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