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Merriman Gets Deal Done; Gates Still Out

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Aug 2, 2005.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    <strong>August 2, 2005</strong>
    Source: <a href="http://www.nflplayers.com/news/news_release.aspx?id=4026">NFLPlayers.com</a>

    SAN DIEGO (AP) - Outside linebacker Shawne Merriman won't be the last player in training camp for the San Diego Chargers, after all.

    While many people anticipated protracted negotiations involving the hard-hitting player known as "Lights Out," Merriman agreed to a five-year deal on Monday after missing just the first week of camp. His contract potentially is worth $15.73 million, with $9 million guaranteed.

    Merriman, the 12th player picked in the NFL draft, caused a stir when he stayed away from both minicamps and other offseason workouts on the advice of his agent, Kevin Poston, who didn't like the wording in the agreement that protects players in case they get hurt before they sign a contract. That and the Chargers' recent history of failing to get their top picks into camp at a reasonable time didn't bode well.

    But both sides said talks went well.

    "It was always professional, always cordial," Poston said. "We were able to get it done at Shawne's fair-market value."

    General manager A.J. Smith agreed.

    "It was quick, terrific," Smith said. "We're all thrilled. This is very good news that he's not out for a long series of games in the preseason. It's a big plus.

    "I know everyone was anticipating that this would be long and drawn-out," Smith said. "I think they were basing that on Kevin's reputation and the fact we had a language dispute during minicamp."

    Merriman is due in camp on Tuesday, when the Chargers have a night practice.

    With Merriman's deal done, the Chargers' only unsigned player is All-Pro tight end Antonio Gates, who is seeking a long-term deal averaging between $4 million and $5 million a year. As an exclusive-rights free agent, Gates was tendered a one-year contract for $380,000, but he has chosen not to sign that contract while his agent continues negotiations on a long-term deal.

    On draft day, the Chargers envisioned Merriman lining up opposite outside linebacker Steve Foley, who led the Chargers' otherwise lethargic pass rush with 10 sacks last year. But when Merriman missed offseason workouts and the chance for individual instruction, the Chargers felt Merriman, a former star at Maryland, would fall behind in learning the team's 3-4 defense.

    Poston thinks Merriman will be OK.

    "The first preseason game has not taken place. He'll be fine," Poston said. "All rookies have to catch up, even those who are in on time."

    Merriman has a tattoo of a light switch on one forearm, and he celebrates big hits by pretending to flip the switch. He's been working out in Maryland.

    "We've got plenty of time for everything, but missing everything in the offseason is a factor," Smith said. "But you don't know until he gets here and starts working."

    Merriman's deal was structured so he'll get an early roster bonus of $1,244,000 rather than a signing bonus. He'll get an option bonus of $6.35 million, payable over the second, third and fourth years of the deal.

    In recent seasons, quarterback Philip Rivers, cornerback Quentin Jammer and running back LaDainian Tomlinson all had long holdouts.

    Tomlinson had no problem getting up to speed and was a starter from the first game of his career, but the holdouts by Rivers and Jammer cost them a chance to compete for starting jobs. Jammer did play in 14 games as a rookie, starting four, but was way behind. With Rivers a non-factor in training camp last year, Drew Brees held onto his starting job and led the Chargers to a 12-4 record and the AFC West title. He was named the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year and voted to the Pro Bowl.
     

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