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Merriman laments uncertainty about his future

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Dan Parr

dparr@pfwmedia.com
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Posted Feb. 24, 2010 @ 4:26 p.m. ET
By Dan Parr

Chargers OLB Shawne Merriman says he has made his intentions clear — he loves playing in San Diego and wants to remain with the team beyond March 5, when his contract expires.

The Chargers, however, haven't been forthcoming about their plans for him, and he's not happy about it.

"As long as I'm able to play football somewhere, I think I'll be in a great situation," he told PFW. "I've said over and over again that San Diego is one of the greatest places you can be. The fans are great here, and my teammates have been great. The organization, they've been great up to this point, and we're going to see what happens with that.

"I love being here, period, but at the same time, to be in my situation after helping my team out as much as I have in the past, to not know where you're going or what's going to happen with your future, is not a great situation for me. It doesn't make me feel good."

If no new Collective Bargaining Agreement is agreed upon before March 5, Merriman will become a restricted free agent, which will put the Chargers in control of his future.

In late January, Merriman said he felt like he was in the "worst possible situation" because he didn't know whether the team wanted to keep him.

Merriman said that while his situation is unsettling, he doesn't plan on taking the same road other frustrated players have used: making a public plea to be allowed to depart in free agency or be traded.

"I'm a football player," he said. "I love playing the game. People know what I've done over the years. My teammates know how much I mean in that locker room and what I'm capable of doing. I'm not going to ever go to the media and pout and make myself look like an ass. For what? I'm a football player and that's what I do. ... When you turn on that film, you know what Shawne Merriman is capable of doing. When I go in that locker room and I bust my ass every day working out, the team knows what I'm capable of doing. My teammates know what I'm capable of doing, and that's the only thing that's important to me. Everything else is irrelevant. Whatever is going to happen is going to happen. I just can't wait to line back up and play football again.

"As far as my future, I just want everything to be fair. As long as I'm able to go back to playing football and go out and perform and go back to dominating again, that's the most important thing to me. As far as the CBA and all that stuff, I don't have any control over that."

Merriman said he expects discussions between him and the team to pick up when the Scouting Combine begins this week. For now, his focus is on staying healthy and working out. Merriman came back in 2009 and made four sacks after missing all but one game in '08 with torn knee ligaments. He averaged 13.2 sacks in his first three seasons before the knee injury sidelined him, but he said focusing on those numbers and the decline in sacks in '09 doesn't do his performance justice.

"Nobody wants to step on the field and get double-digit sacks every year more than I do, and I hold myself to a higher standard," he said.

"People look at sacks and they're not really paying attention to what's important. In 2008, when I wasn't playing, I don't know where we finished in defense overall, but it was late 20s or something like that (25th). We made a heck of a jump this year statistically (to 16th)."

Merriman did say, however, that he expects to regain his Pro Bowl-caliber form next season.

"I could sit here and talk about all the stats I'm going to put up and all the great things and sacks and all that stuff," he said. "I think the bigger and more important thing is that I'm going to be back at full strength next year. Even at some points this (past) year, I require so much attention (from offenses) sometimes, and I think it goes unnoticed. I'm out there playing and I'm getting double-teamed, and nobody's running my way and things like that, so I didn't finish statistically where I wanted to for the season, and we didn't finish where we wanted to as a team. But at the same time, I think I was able to go out there and be disruptive."

Merriman has also dealt with some off-field issues this offseason. He and former MTV star Tila Tequila resolved their lawsuits against each other last week.

Merriman was arrested in September after Tequila alleged that he choked and physically restrained her as she tried to leave his home. No charges were brought against Merriman, but Tequila filed a lawsuit against him for assault, battery, false imprisonment and emotional distress. Merriman then sued her for intentional interference with a contract, because her allegations reportedly prevented him from completing a deal with Walmart to produce T-shirts.

Merriman did not speak about the specifics of the resolution but did say he's glad it's behind him.

"I'm just happy that all that stuff is over and I'm able to move on with my life, and that's it," he said. "That's all I really have to say about that."

 

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