What Are Shawne Merriman's Chances Of Getting a New Contract?

Ethan RyanContributor IOctober 7, 2009

SAN DIEGO - SEPTEMBER 20:  Shawne Merriman #56 of the San Diego Chargers looks on during the game against the Baltimore Ravens at Qualcomm Stadium on September 20, 2009 in San Diego, California. The Ravens defeated the Chargers 31-26.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

At the end of the 2007 season, Shawne Merriman was one of the most valuable players in the NFL. He had recorded 12.5 sacks and was an instrumental part of the Chargers run to the AFC Championship game. He had made 39.5 sacks since his career started in 2005, which led the NFL in that time period.

Oh, how things have changed.

One year and one torn posterior cruciate ligament later, Merriman looks like a ghost of the player of 2005-2007. It may be the case that he has not yet recovered fully but that is unlikely.

He has started all four of San Diego's games this year and has been virtually anonymous, recording just eight tackles. Not what you want from your star defender.

He was hampered with a groin problem against the Dolphins and the Steelers and actually saw very little action against Miami. It is this groin problem which puts him in danger of losing his job.

If it continues to restrict his play he may not perform well enough to earn a second contract. Another problem for him is that a number of high profile teammates are in contract years as well.

Vincent Jackson will be signed, as will Marcus McNeill. Unless we see a dramatic improvement from Chris Chambers, he will lose out.

The drafting of Larry English in the first round was a clear statement that the Chargers are ready to move on without Merriman. At the moment, it is a real possibility that he will be looking for a new team in the offseason.