Chargers GM A.J. Smith Aware of June 15 Deadline

San Diego Chargers restricted free agent linebacker Shawne Merriman, left tackle Marcus McNeill, and wide receivers Malcolm Floyd and Vincent Jackson, have not signed their one-year tenders, and are not expected to attend the team's voluntary "Organized Team Activity" sessions, and are not required to attend the mandatory mini-camp.

According to Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune, Chargers general manager A.J. Smith isn't sure when, or if, the players will re-join the team.

"I don’t know what they are thinking, and I have no idea when we’ll see them again or if we will ever see them again," Smith said. "This I do know: the upcoming season will be on us very soon. Whoever we have as Chargers, we go with. I don’t spend much time speculating on who will be here or when they will be here."

Acee suggests that Smith could reduce the amounts of the one-year tenders, which the team has the right to do if the offers are not signed on June 15. Doing so would reduce the player's base salary in 2010 to 110% of what the player earned in 2009.

All three players were tendered at the "First- and Third-Round" level, which successfully scared away the other 31 NFL teams from signing any of the restricted free agents to offer sheets prior to the April 15 deadline. The Chargers reportedly engaged in trade talks involving Merriman, but his former agent, Tom Condon, was seeking too much in long-term contract talks and a trade never materialized. Merriman has since changed representation, hiring David Dunn.

Reducing the tender amounts would be a risky tactic for any front office to take, but Acee notes that Smith has a reputation among NFL agents for not bluffing in contract matters. Merriman is already earning 110% of his '09 salary, so the Chargers wouldn't save any money by reducing his tender. For the other three players, though, the Chargers could save $6.634 million dollars in base salary next season by playing hardball with Jackson, Floyd, and McNeill.

The Chargers have OTA sessions scheduled for June 14-17, and what the Chargers do regarding the restricted free agents could be a major storyline in the NFL that week, as reducing the tenders could prompt questions about how "voluntary" those workouts really are.

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