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No room on roster for player who can’t play

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Johnny Lightning, Oct 14, 2010.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006

    No room on roster for player who can’t play

    By Tim Sullivan
    October 13, 2010 at 11:02 p.m.

    For a time, the shortest distance between two points was Shawne Merriman’s path to the quarterback.

    He was havoc in shoulder pads, an absurdly quick mass of muscles with the disruptive qualities of a live grenade. He was a game-changer, a difference-maker, an impact player whose impact on an unprotected passer raised the degree of difficulty of crawling out of bed.
    And then he wasn’t.
    “He got a lot of attention a year ago with the double-teams and all that,” Chargers coach Norv Turner said Wednesday. “He always continued to play the run well. He just hasn’t been the force with the pass rush that he’d been.”
    Once a beast, Merriman gradually became a burden to the Chargers. He hasn’t been able to stay healthy and he didn’t generate enough pressure during his intermittent activity. For all of his scandals and squabbles — the contractual theatrics, the offseason absences, the look-at-me lifestyle, the positive drug test and the negative dalliance with Tila Tequila — Merriman’s unforgivable sin was in losing a step.
    Create enough heat off the corner, and a football team will gladly handle a few headaches. But lose a little burst and every false step starts to seem critical. In making the procedural move Wednesday that will ultimately result in Merriman’s release, the Chargers essentially declared that “Lights Out” is too flickering to be a force and no longer worth leaving a candle in the window.
    They are saying that they prefer to swallow at least $2 million of Merriman’s 2010 salary rather than dedicate a roster spot to a player of dubious productivity. Were another team to claim Merriman on waivers, the Chargers would stand to receive some salary relief, but the driving force here is desperation. The Chargers are 2-3, have been hemorrhaging linebackers, and can ill afford to keep players around as sideline spectators.
    Sure, there’s a lot of history here, and some of it is unpleasant. Chargers General Manager A.J. Smith has made no effort to conceal his frustrations with Merriman’s priorities and level of commitment and has steadfastly refused to negotiate a long-term contract with the player. Merriman, in turn, picked a lousy time for a training camp holdout, failing to grasp that he had much to prove following two seasons dominated by injuries and rehabilitation.
    Yet whatever friction the two parties created, the Chargers still thought Merriman sufficiently serviceable to warrant a $3.269 million tender offer for the 2010 season. A.J. Smith may be stubborn — OK, he is stubborn — but even his biggest detractors should concede that the man is more interested in production than in payback.
    Smith was willing to gamble that Merriman would produce in a contract year. He just wasn’t willing to bet a long-term contract on that hopeful hypothesis. In retrospect, it was the right move, and certainly more easily defended than was Smith’s strangely intractable and suddenly conciliatory stance toward offensive tackle Marcus McNeill.
    For all of the dazzling promise of his early days in pro football, Shawne Merriman has been more of a comet than a fixed star. As his injuries have accumulated, and his impact has declined, Merriman forces us to contemplate the melancholy conclusion that this 26-year-old athlete has probably peaked.
    “We wanted him to be a part of this football team and help us win,” Smith said. “But it has not gone well for him. He is not healthy to play for the San Diego Chargers for two to three weeks, maybe less than that.
    “We could continue to keep moving as we have done. (But) Due to this particular situation, we have decided we’re going to move in another direction.”
    To some, Merriman is forever tainted by the four-game suspension he served in 2006 following a positive drug test. That he nonetheless led the NFL with 17 sacks that season, while playing in only 12 games, would suggest there was more to the man than anabolic steroids. Revisionist historians who would date Merriman’s decline to his failed drug test have yet to adequately account for his success later that season or his 12½ sacks in 2007.
    More likely, Merriman reached his career crossroads on Dec. 9, 2007 in Nashville , on a malevolent double-team block by Tennessee’s Kevin Mawae and David Stewart. Mawae and Stewart were fined for their conspiratorial cheap shot, but they succeeded in shredding ligaments in Merriman’s left knee.
    If Merriman has been the same player since, it has been only in fleeting glimpses.
    “When Shawne was healthy, he was definitely the toughest defensive end/outside linebacker that you would find in the league,” Marcus McNeill said Wednesday. “His size, speed and explosiveness came second to none. I feel like a lot of the things that happened to him may have slowed him down a little, but he’s still a very young player and I’m pretty sure he will bounce back very effectively.”
    Effectiveness is fine, but Shawne Merriman used to be extraordinary. Big difference.
  2. wrbanwal

    wrbanwal Well-Known Member

    Dec 27, 2005



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