Where will Shawne Merriman wind up?

SAN DIEGO - AUGUST 14: Linebacker Shawne Merriman  of the San Diego Chargers works out before the game with the Chicago Bears on August 14, 2010 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California.  Merriman signed his one year tender contract on Friday and isn't expected to play. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

It’s official: Shawne Merriman is no longer a Charger after the team waived him on Tuesday.

Merriman, who passed his physical and is apparently healthy after dealing with calf and Achilles injuries for most of the year, must clear waivers before teams can bid on his services. The early indications are that the Dolphins, 49ers and Ravens could be interested in the outside ‘backer.

The Ravens would be an interesting choice because they could use another pass-rusher and Merriman could sit back and learn from guys like Ray Lewis. It’s veteran-led team that will certainly compete for a playoff spot this year (barring injuries, of course), so maybe Merriman would accept a third down role in order to be a part of a winner. Then, after the season, he and his agent could try to coax some team into giving him a multi-year deal (assuming he performs this year).

The Patriots would seemingly be a good fit for Merriman too, although that team never does what anyone thinks its going to do so who knows. They could definitely use a pass-rusher though.

It’ll be interesting to see if anyone takes a flier on the 26-year-old now that he’s supposedly healthy.

Update: The Bills acquired Merriman off waivers according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. He won’t play in Week 9, however.

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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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Are the Chargers taking the right approach with Shawne Merriman’s contract situation?

The NFL has always been a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league and Shawne Merriman is currently being reminded of that.

In his first three seasons, Merriman posted 188 tackles, 39.5 sacks and eight forced fumbles. But after undergoing major knee surgery before the 2008 season, his numbers have expectedly dropped off. He essentially didn’t play in ’08 and then struggled last year while bouncing back from the injury.

In his last six regular season games, plus his start against the Jets in the playoffs last year, Merriman has zero sacks. He has just one forced fumble in his last 28 starts and finished with only 36 tackles in 14 games last season. While two injury-plagued/unproductive seasons don’t erase three stellar years of service, it’s not unreasonable that the Bolts are holding off on giving Merriman a long-term deal.

No one can fault Merriman for seeking a multi-year contract, especially considering his career has already been threatened once by an injury. Players want the comfort of knowing they’re set up long-term and you can’t hold it against Merriman that’s trying to parlay the success he had in his first three years into a new deal.

That said, you can’t blame the Chargers for wanting to keep him hungry, either. If they paid him now, he may or may not strive to produce. But if they keep that long-term contract carrot dangling in front of him, they know they’re going to get his best effort next season. If he plays well and he moves on next year, then at least they got one last productive season out of him and they already drafted his potential replacement last year in Larry English. If he plays well and wants to stay, then they can feel better about investing in him long-term. If he struggles and has a down year, then they don’t have to commit to him. That might be an unfair scenario for Merriman, but the NFL has always been a business.

Again, I don’t blame Merriman for being upset about his current situation. But what is he going to do? This is the spot he finds himself in and all that’s left is for him to prove that he deserves a long-term deal – whether that’s in San Diego or elsewhere.

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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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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.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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