It may finally be "Lights Out" for San Diego Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman. The six-year veteran may have played his last game in a Chargers uniform.
The three-time Pro Bowl linebacker was placed on the injured reserve list today by the Chargers with a calf injury, the same injury that may be related to the Achilles tendon injury that delayed his return to the field after signing his one-year restricted free-agent tender.
The Chargers placed a "minor-injury designation" (a less than six-week injury) on Merriman, meaning the Chargers must release him from his contract once he becomes healthy.
According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, this move was being anticipated for more than a week, after Chargers brass had begun to lose patience with Merriman.
This is yet another blow to a Chargers linebacker corps that has become depleted by injuries this season.
Chargers general manager A.J. Smith made it known that signing Merriman to a long-term deal before his one-year restricted free-agent contract expires wasn't a priority.
It looks as if Shawne Merriman never got the job security that he so desired, but then again he hasn't shown the fans of San Diego any increase in his defensive production either.
Merriman became an instant fan-favorite after being drafted (by Smith) out of Maryland in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft. However, a four-game suspension in 2006 for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy by testing positive for steroids may have tarnished his image.
I must admit that I don't necessarily agree with A.J. Smith's stance on just letting Merriman leave San Diego without receiving any sort of compensation for him.
The team knew he had a nagging Achilles tendon injury that flared up. They should have place him on the trading block in hopes of getting another player or draft pick in return.
Once again it shows why San Diego and A.J. Smith may never win a Super Bowl. We draft great players out of college, groom them to become superstars and then let them walk away from the Chargers with nothing in return, only to watch their careers blossom again with a different team.
I hope that everything works out for Shawne Merriman, because in the end it is going to come back and haunt the Chargers where it counts the most.