SAN DIEGO — Shawne Merriman signed
his $3,269,000, one-year tender with the San Diego Chargers on Friday,
admitting his two-week holdout didn't accomplish anything.
The star outside linebacker won't
play in Saturday night's exhibition opener against Chicago, but coach
Norv Turner expects him to be ready by the following weekend's game
Merriman, once one of the most-feared
players in the NFL, stood on the sideline watching Friday's
walkthrough, the sleeves on his jersey rolled up to expose his tattooed
"I think it was time for me to come
in and get ready," said Merriman, who's trying to regain the form that
resulted in 39 1/2 sacks in his first three seasons. "You can't show up
game one, game two, whatever, and expect to be ready. The only way to
emulate football is to play football."
Merriman softened his stance on a
handful of issues, including one in which he was quoted as saying he
wanted the Chargers to tell him he wouldn't be traded during the
"Everybody's on the trading block, so
I don't think that was a question at all. I think it was more of it
being talked about so much. We have bigger fish to fry, and that's to
play the Kansas City Chiefs and get ready for them," he said, referring
to the season opener on Sept. 13.
"At no point in time did I want my
conversation on where I'm going to play or what's going to happen be
bigger than us getting ready for a game. At some point, it got there.
That's what I wanted to stay away from. But I'm happy to be back here
for another year, to come out and finish what we started with these
guys. There's no better way to do it."
So did he accomplish anything by not being in camp?
"No I didn't accomplish anything at
all because I always knew that I was wanted here and that was one of
the biggest reasons for getting some things sorted out," he said. "But
just the whole business part of it you just hate to deal with. I'm just
so glad that that's behind me now where I can go out and play."
Merriman said he expressed his
concerns a few times to general manager A.J. Smith, including during a
phone conversation on Thursday.
"We obviously have the same goals,
trying to accomplish the same things, and sometimes in between, things
get a little mixed up and they shouldn't be," Merriman said. "But
ultimately we have the same goals, to come out and be a championship
Smith, not a fan of Merriman's celebrity-leaning pursuits away from football, didn't return a call seeking comment.
The Chargers still have two
high-profile holdouts. Left tackle Marcus McNeill and Pro Bowl wide
receiver Vincent Jackson have refused to sign their tenders because
they want long-term deals.
McNeill's agent, Alvin Keels,
confirmed in an e-mail on Friday that the Chargers have threatened to
place the player on the roster exempt list if he doesn't sign his
tender by next Friday. Jackson's agent, Neil Schwartz, didn't return a
call or e-mail, but it would seem to follow suit that the Chargers
would also threaten his client with the same treatment.
By being placed on the roster exempt
list, they would face a three-game suspension once they sign. Jackson
and McNeill are believed to be willing to hold out through the season's
first 10 games, returning for the final six to gain an accrued season.
Jackson already has been suspended by the NFL for the first three games
for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Being placed on the
roster exempt list would force them to move up their return, if they
intend to play at all this year.
Smith used the same move in 2005 on
tight end Antonio Gates, who missed the season opener. Gates could have
been a factor when the Chargers had four cracks at the end zone from
the Dallas 7-yard line in the final minute before losing 28-24. The
Chargers eventually missed the playoffs that year.
Merriman also backed off an earlier statement that he wanted to be on a team where the defense was built around him.
Asked if that would be the situation
with the Chargers, he said: "Absolutely not. It wasn't intended for any
defense or anything like that to be built around me. I want to be a big
part of this team for the next five, seven years, whatever it is. I've
never been a guy that wanted anything built around me because I always
believe that if you put me on the field, I'm going to be able to make
plays. You don't have to do anything around me at all. I'm just happy
to be here and do my part, and do my part as I have for the last five
He also said he wanted people to
stop dwelling on talk about a long-term deal with the Chargers,
"because as you saw in '08, it can be over and you can be out. I'm
going to continue to take it year by year. I know I'm wanted here and
that's good enough for me."
Nicknamed "Lights Out" because of
his punishing hits, Merriman missed the final 15 games of the 2008
season after having reconstructive knee surgery. He was limited to four
sacks last year as he bounced back from the knee surgery and dealt with
Merriman was a force in his first
three NFL seasons, although he served a four-game suspension in 2006
after testing positive for steroids. He had a career-high 17 sacks in
12 games that season.
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