Progress shown in Merriman contract talks?

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Shawne Merriman’s new agent met for two hours on Thursday with Charger GM A.J. Smith and chief negotiator Ed McGuire. Given Tom Condon’s (Merriman’s former agent) poor relationship with Smith, this is a good sign for the linebacker as he pursues a long-term deal.

“We had a meeting with David that was very productive and enlightening on a number of fronts,” Smith said. “Regarding Shawne, I told him we are open-minded regarding his situation. We have many other player situations to ponder in the year ahead.”

It is all but certain that in Thursday’s meeting the parties addressed the Chargers’ attempts to trade Merriman and the likelihood of a contract extension now and in the future.

Merriman, like many restricted free agents caught in the NFL’s labor strife, is unhappy with the fact he received a one-year tender offer.

Additionally, the three-time Pro Bowler is disenchanted with the fact Smith has no plans to give him a long-term contract.

If it were up to the Chargers, they would love to see Merriman play on his one-year tender and then reassess the situation after the 2010 season. A serious knee injury limited him in 2008 and when he returned last year, he struggled while only posting four sacks.

It doesn’t make sense for the Bolts to sign Merriman to a long-term deal not knowing how productive he’s going to be in the future – especially considering they drafted his eventual replacement in Larry English last year. That said, if Merriman turns out to be the player he was in his first three years, then the team risks upsetting him and him moving on after the season.

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