Chargers left tackle Tra Thomas retires

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Left tackle Tra Thomas retired on Saturday, leaving the San Diego Chargers woefully thin at a crucial position due to Marcus McNeill's holdout.

The 35-year-old Thomas was signed as insurance in early June when it became apparent that McNeill, a Pro Bowler in 2006-07, could stage a prolonged holdout. But Thomas, a 12-year veteran, was hurt early in training camp and had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.

Thomas was a first-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in 1998. He went to the Pro Bowl after the 2001, '02 and '04 seasons. He played in five NFC championship games and one Super Bowl with the Eagles.

He signed with Jacksonville last year and played in just eight games, starting one.

McNeill is unhappy that he hasn't been given a long-term deal. Instead, the Chargers tendered the restricted free agent a one-year deal for $3,168,000. Because he didn't sign by June 15, the Chargers were entitled to slash his pay to 110 percent of his 2009 base salary, or approximately $630,000.

General manager A.J. Smith placed McNeill and San Diego's other holdout, Pro Bowl wide receiver Vincent Jackson, on the roster exempt list Friday. That means they'll be suspended for three games once they sign their contract tenders.

Smith didn't return a call seeking comment Saturday.

For Saturday night's exhibition game against Dallas, the Chargers were down to second-year pro Brandyn Dombrowski and undrafted rookie Nick Richmond at left tackle, the spot that protects quarterback Philip Rivers' blind side. Second-year pro Tyronne Green has played at left tackle, but sat out Saturday night with an ankle injury.

Jackson also is unhappy he hasn't gotten a long-term deal. The Chargers recently gave the Seattle Seahawks permission to talk to Jackson's agents, but the player's price tag apparently remains too high.

Jackson, coming off his second straight 1,000-yard season, already has been suspended by the NFL for the first three games for violating the league's substance abuse policy. He pleaded guilty in February to his second DUI since 2006.

Tagged: Chargers, Tra Thomas, Vincent Jackson, Marcus McNeill

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