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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Merriman voices displeasure after being tendered

Chargers’ linebacker Shawne Merriman expressed his displeasure via his Twitter page after the team told him he’d be tendered at the first and third round level. Merriman will make $3.3 million in 2010.

From the San Diego Union Tribune:

That means another team would have to give the Chargers a first- and third-round pick in this year’s draft if it signed Merriman. The sides could also work out a deal for less, but the high tender means it will at least take some high picks.

Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd are also expected to get the first-and-third tender.

Merriman will make more than than Jackson’s $3.268 million and Floyd’s $3.168 million, because he is due 110 percent of his 2009 salary. That will put him slightly over $3.3 million.

On his Twitter page, Merriman wrote that he was “speechless” over the Chargers’ decision and that, “Business is Business but some things just aren’t right.”

I recently spoke with Merriman
, who was in good spirits about his health and the offseason. He also said that he would love to “wear a Bolt the rest of my career,” but also noted that the Chargers hadn’t made him an offer yet. Considering he’s completely healthy after bouncing back from major knee surgery in 2008, it must be frustrating for him not to receive a new deal from the Chargers. But then again, the team wants to protect itself in case Merriman struggles with injuries again next year.

Hopefully Merriman plays well next season and receives a long-term deal, whether it comes from the Chargers or another team.

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Tomlinson to stay with Chargers

As of right now, every indication out of San Diego is that running back LaDainian Tomlinson will not be traded this offseason and will be in a Chargers uniform in 2009.

LaDainian TomlinsonLaDainian Tomlinson’s future with the Chargers might be the most discussed non-Super Bowl story of the week. And it took another interesting turn Thursday. In his chat on, analyst Gil Brandt reported that Tomlinson likely will remain with San Diego in 2009.

I was with Norv Turner and Dean Spanos last night and talked at length about LT returning. Mr. Spanos led me to believe that LT would be on their team in 2009. I think the Chargers have a good team. With Merriman back that really helps that defense a lot. And Turner has made some coaching changes. One of the keys to their team next year will be how LT Marcus McNeil plays and if he rebounds from a poor 2008.

The Chargers keeping LT is a no-brainer. Given Tomlinson’s poor 2008 campaign, his 2009 cap charge of $6.725 million is hefty. But the point is he’s still under contract and Darren Sproles isn’t a featured back so if the team could have them both in their backfield again next season (the Chargers would have to re-sign Sproles because he’s a free agent), they’d be in pretty good shape. And maybe LT will restructure his contract and allow San Diego to keep Sproles.

Clearly the Chargers didn’t think LT was finished heading into 2008 or else they would have made a better attempt to hang onto Michael Turner. So why dump LT now after one year? He’s a hard worker and he knows his career is now on the downside. San Diego should show him some loyalty and hopefully he repays you with a bounce back in 2009.

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