Will teams show interest in Shawne Merriman once he’s released?

Aug 14, 2010; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman watches from the sidelines during the preseason game against the Chicago Bears at Qualcomm Stadium. The Chargers defeated the Bears 25-10. Photo by Image of Sport Photo via Newscom

Shawne Merriman’s career with the San Diego Chargers is finished. The team placed him on injured reserve with a minor injury designation, which means they have to release him once he’s officially healthy.

With this being the eventual outcome, Chargers’ GM Alex Smith was wise not to give Merriman a new contract this offseason. Not that he was going to give into Merriman’s contract demands anyway. Despite the linebacker’s three-time Pro Bowl status, Smith wasn’t going to give the injury-prone Merriman a new deal when he hasn’t been productive in nearly three years.

The question now becomes: once he’s released, will any team take a flier on him? Even if he’s deemed healthy enough to be released, he probably won’t be 100% for the rest of the year, which means the market could be completely bare for him in a couple of weeks.

One team that may make him an offer is the Patriots, who have an obvious need for a pass rusher and who also play the 3-4 alignment that suits Merriman’s skill set. There haven’t been any connections to Merriman and New England yet, but then again it’s still early and it’s not Bill Belichick’s style to reveal his team’s future intentions.

Another team that may be interested is the Saints, who also have a need for a pass rusher and could use the upgrade at linebacker. Even though they play a 4-3, Gregg Williams is known for his innovative schemes and he could certainly put together a game play fits Merriman’s pass-rushing ability.

Again though, he’s not healthy and hasn’t been in two years. One team that has already said they’re not interested is the Cardinals, who would like to add depth at outside linebacker but they don’t want to take on the injury risk. It makes you wonder how many other teams feel the same way.

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