San Diego Chargers general manager A.J. Smith is ruthless in his negotiating techniques, if you can even call them that. He's the kind of guy who makes one offer, and if you don't like it, he counters with one you'll like even less.
In short, he's the kind of guy with whom playing Monopoly would be absolutely no fun. And right now, he's got restricted free agents Vincent Jackson(notes) and Marcus McNeil trapped on Park Place and Boardwalk, both of which he owns — with hotels on both.
The value contracts the Chargers are required to offer them in order to keep their services just went down. Both had offers of over $3 million for this season, but as of Tuesday, those offers were down to about $600,000, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Both guys want long-term deals, of course, and are refusing to sign their tenders. Both also appear willing to hold out through training camp and into the season.
How's A.J. Smith reacting to that? Like Jackson and McNeil are dead to him, pretty much. Quoth Smith, via the San Diego Union-Tribune's Kevin Acee:
"We lost a couple of great players today, and it hurts. We are trying to build a championship team, and losing the services of both Vincent and Marcus just made that more difficult — but not impossible. In due time, Coach Turner will name two new starters. We will rally as a team, compete and try to win as many games as we can."
"It was a very unpleasant situation we all had to deal with. It came to a conclusion today. We will now move forward and focus on the upcoming season."
So I guess that's that, Mattress Man.
It's difficult to know what Smith's real intentions are, because Vincent Jackson, especially, is a difference-maker. If the Chargers want to get to a Super Bowl, and not keep getting bounced in the playoffs, they need their best players, and Jackson absolutely is one of them.
Would Smith go through all this posturing and take all these steps, just to show Jackson and McNeil that he's in charge of negotiations? I believe he would. Is he bull-headed enough to actually go through the season without them? I believe he'd do that, too.