With a potential lockout looming in 2011 and their Super Bowl window dwindling rapidly, you would expect the San Diego Chargers to be trying to line things up for one last Super Bowl run.

But instead, the Chargers are angling for a very distraction-filled training camp when season preparations begin later this month.

Receiver Vincent Jackson and offensive tackle Marcus McNeill won’t be showing up for training camp unless they land long-term contracts and the Chargers did their part to ensure holdouts by reducing the 2010 tenders for the two restricted free agents.

If you are serious about working something out long-term with your players, you don’t reduce the tenders to the extent the Chargers did. Yes, the Chargers were within their rights to shrink Jackson’s $3.268 million tender to $583,000 and McNeill’s $3.168 million figure to $600,000. But that’s not the way to solve an impasse.

But that’s the way they do things in San Diego. Problem-solving isn’t – and hasn’t been – a strength.

You might recall Chargers president Dean Spanos describing a “dysfunctional” situation back in Feb. 2007 when Marty Schottenheimer was fired as coach after a 14-2 season largely in part because of his nonexistent relationship with general manager A.J. Smith. It was the second time in little more than a decade that an acrimonious relationship between coach and general manager (Bobby Ross vs. Bobby Beathard in mid-1990s) was allowed to fester.

Jackson is coming off two straight 1,000-yard seasons and McNeill is one of the top offensive left tackles in the AFC. Losing two players of that caliber to go along with a defensive line full of holes, questionable safeties and banking that rookie running back Ryan Mathews will perform like LaDainian Tomlinson before L.T. got old goes more along with a 9-7 team that one preparing for a Super Bowl run.

Of course, after that embarrassing first-round playoff loss to the New York Jets that put a disappointing cap on the 2009 season, perhaps Chargers’ brass thinks it is time to act like a 9-7 squad instead of failing to live up to annual predictions of deep postseason runs.

I’m sure the Chargers are tired of Jackson’s act. Two DUIs in a 2 1/2-year span and being stopped by police on the way to the playoff game against the Jets doesn’t happen to players who are dedicated to being good citizens. (Can you imagine quarterback Philip Rivers ever getting in any type of trouble?)

National media reports circulated Thursday about an impending three-game suspension for Jackson due to his violations of the NFL’s personal-conduct policy. There also has been recent speculation that the Washington Redskins, Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos are interested in trading for Jackson.

You can discount any rumor involving the Broncos because the Chargers absolutely will not trade Jackson to the AFC West team they fear most of their three division rivals. There also is no chance in the world of the Chargers giving Jackson a contract that averages between $10 and $12 million a season either.

McNeill doesn’t cause the off-the-field havoc that Jackson does but how can he not become disenchanted with the organization if he ends up holding out most of the season? (Both players have to report after Week 10 to accrue another season towards unrestricted free agency.)

Unless the Chargers load up McNeill’s bank account with cash – we’re talking more than $20 million in up front guarantees as part of a $40 million-plus contract – there’s no reason for him to consider reporting until Game No. 11 due to the reduced tender.

Only time will tell how things play out but I can tell you this: Not solving issues with two key players isn’t the way to make one last Super Bowl run.

Unless you take pride in being “dysfunctional.”


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