San Diego Chargers: MNF Could Be Job Interview For Merriman

Mike KranzlerContributor IOctober 18, 2009

SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 27:  Shawne Merriman #56 of the San Diego Chargers look on from the sideline against the Miami Dolphins v San Diego Chargers NFL Game at Qualcomm Stadium on September 27, 2009 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

When the San Diego Chargers take the field for Monday Night Football versus the Denver Broncos, it may amount to a job interview of sorts for OLB Shawne Merriman.

After notching the most sacks in the NFL over his first three seasons, turmoil has seemed to follow the fifth-year pro at every turn.

A positive test for a banned supplement in 2006 drew the ire from the rest of the league, and to this day he is viewed as a "juicer" by most NFL fans outside of San Diego.

While sitting out last season with an injured knee sustained in 2007 (after ignoring the Chargers' medical advice, of course), many in the organization worried that his mind was focused more on his off-the-field exploits, including his own line of energy drinks.

Just a few weeks ago, he was embroiled in a controversy involving reality TV "star" Tila Tequila, who accused him of beating and choking her during a confrontation at his house. While it seems now that those accusations may have been false, it did little to repair the image of the polarizing pass-rusher.

Merriman promised improvement this week against the undefeated Broncos, and this game may do much to determine the course of his career in San Diego.

The trade deadline is this Tuesday, and the Chargers' GM is undoubtedly willing to listen to any trade offers for Merriman. The issue, however, will be as to his value, as no one seems to know if he will ever get back to his previously fearsome form.

Even if he does not get traded, Merriman is in the last year of his contract, and the Chargers ostensibly drafted his replacement in April in rookie Larry English. If Merriman shows some signs of life against the Broncos on national television, he could prove himself worthy of a big new contract, possibly in San Diego or more likely elsewhere.

But if he does not exhibit much of his trademark explosion against the surprising Broncos, Merriman could be hampering his earning potential while also making it much more difficult for the Chargers to move him before his contract expires.

With English slowly becoming more and more comfortable in the Chargers' defensive scheme, it would not be surprising for this to be Merriman's last week in San Diego if another team steps up with an appropriate offer; but that offer will likely hinge on Merriman's performance on Monday night.

Shawne Merriman would be wise to dress to impress at Qualcomm Stadium on Monday Night Football; he needs to make a good impression in this job interview for a better chance at future success.