In the past 20 months, the Chargers have handed out lucrative contract extensions to seven defensive players. Meanwhile, linebacker Shawne Merriman has not gotten anything close to one.
Now Merriman’s future in San Diego is, at best, clouded. Next season, the linebacker will be headed into the last year of his contract.
Plus, making it even more difficult for San Diego to re-sign Merriman is this little factoid: After the 2009 season, in the year that Merriman’s contract is scheduled to expire, the Chargers will be busy trying to keep a handful of players whose contracts are up. Those players include quarterback Philip Rivers, offensive tackle Marcus McNeil, wide receivers Vincent Jackson and Chris Chambers and Pro Bowl special teamer Kassim Osgood. And the year after, the Chargers will try to re-sign cornerback Antonio Cromartie, tight end Antonio Gates and safety Eric Weddle, all of whom are scheduled to be free agents after the 2010 season.
In the NFL, teams are judged by action, not talk. The action the Chargers have taken so far with Merriman speaks volumes. They have signed linebackers Shaun Phillips, Matt Wilhem and Jyles Tucker to extensions, as well as defensive tackles Luis Castillo and Ryon Bingham, cornerback Steve Gregory and safety Clinton Hart. But they have made few attempts to re-sign Merriman. There are plenty around the league who believe this is not coincidental.