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McNeill ends holdout, signs with Chargers

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SAN DIEGO (AP) - Chargers left tackle Marcus McNeill ended his holdout Saturday when he signed his one-year contract tender as a restricted free agent.

However, he must sit out the next three games because he and wide receiver Vincent Jackson were placed on the roster exempt list by general manager A.J. Smith on Aug. 20. McNeill will be eligible to play Oct. 17 at St. Louis.

McNeill said on his Twitter account, "great to be back today.. GO BOLTS." He signed in time to travel with the Chargers (1-1) to Seattle for their game on Sunday.

Neither McNeill nor his agent responded to requests for comment. With his pay severely slashed by the Chargers, there's a possibility McNeill decided to come in believing that a long-term deal could be worked out.

"It's great," left guard Kris Dielman said in a text message to The Associated Press. "Our team got better today and in the future with him signing today. It's awesome."

McNeill's return came three days after the Chargers failed to trade Jackson by a deadline agreed to by the NFL and the players' union. Jackson has been suspended by the NFL for the first three games because of his second DUI since 2006. If Jackson does sign, he also would have to serve a three-game suspension on the roster exempt list. Jackson's agent, Neil Schwartz, said Wednesday that it's doubtful Jackson will report this year.

McNeill's original four-year contract expired at the end of last season. But because this is an uncapped year, he would have needed six seasons to become an unrestricted free agent.

When McNeill hadn't signed his $3,168,000 tender as a restricted free agent by June 15, the Chargers were entitled to reduce the tender to 110 percent of his 2009 salary, or $630,000. That will be further reduced by each game he doesn't play.

Second-year pro Brandyn Dombrowski has played left tackle in the first two games, protecting Philip Rivers' blind side.

McNeill played in the Pro Bowl following the 2006 and 2007 seasons.

The roster exempt list is a hardball tactic used before by Smith. In 2005, he placed tight end Antonio Gates on the list in an attempt to break an impasse. Gates missed the opener, a close loss to Dallas that contributed to the Chargers missing the playoffs that year.

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