Did the Saints attempt a trade for Merriman?

The San Diego Tribune reports that the Chargers were in discussions with the Saints and two other teams during last month’s draft regarding a possible trade involving linebacker Shawne Merriman. But the report states that a deal could not be reached because Merriman’s former agent, Tom Condon, was seeking too much money for his client in terms of a contract extension.

But despite the report, the New Orleans Times-Picayune denied that the Saints were ever involved. They agree that a trade for Merriman would have meant signing him to a sizable long-term deal, but the Saints have been clear that they’re not looking to spend big money on any player right now.

The rumor makes sense on the surface. The Saints have a definite need at outside linebacker, especially after Jerry Hughes (a player that they had targeted entering the draft) didn’t fall to them with the No. 32 pick. (He went one spot before to the Colts.) New Orleans settled (for lack of a better word) on Florida State’s Patrick Robinson, who now joins a crowded cornerback corps that also features 2009 first rounder Malcolm Jenkins.

That said, it makes sense that the Saints don’t want to spend a ton of money a year after winning the Super Bowl. Winning teams usually concentrate on keeping their main core of players intact, while also making subtle upgrades through the draft and free agency. Trading for a player such as Merriman and signing him to a lucrative contract extension doesn’t make much sense – especially considering he struggled last year while trying to bounce back from knee surgery.

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Is Merriman on the trade block?

Michael Lombardi of the NFL Network said on Monday’s edition of “Total Access” that the Chargers may be interested in dealing linebacker Shawne Merriman.

“Do the Chargers want to extend his contract? If that answer is ‘no,’ which I here (is the case), then the best thing they can do is trade him, ala Brandon Marshall,” Lombardi said. “When you don’t want to sign a player to an extension, maybe it’s the best thing to do to trade him now. The problem here — he didn’t sign his tender so he cannot be traded because he certainly doesn’t have a contract.”

Merriman wants a long-term deal and he wants to remain in San Diego. But it appears as if he might have to play out this last year and then seek other options after the season.

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