Saints Gab Mailbag: Shawne Merriman

Time to open up the mailbag once again…

Several people have asked me about the possibility of the Saints acquiring the services of troubled Chargers DE Shawne Merriman. While this is an intriguing possibility, I’m sorry, but it’s not gonna happen.

The San Diego Union-Tribute reported last week that the Saints were interested in a draft day trade for Merriman, a rumor which was shot down by a report in the Times-Picayune. I don’t believe the Saints were intereted at all. Perhaps, this was a ploy used by the Merriman camp to quicken a deal, similar to what Alex Brown and his agent did to get the Saints to sign the free agent quickly. After his visit with the Saints, Brown and his agent reported that several other teams were interested and that Brown was going to visit them. The deal got done quickly. Not so much in Merriman’s case.

The asking price for Merriman was also pretty steep. The Chargers wanted at least a first and third round pick for Merriman. His agent at the time, Tom Condon, also wanted a huge contract extension with the team Merriman ends up playing for. As for the Saints right now, they are not willing to spend that much money on a player that’s damaged goods, especially when they still have players like Pierre Thomas to sign long term.

Merriman is no longer the player he once was. The 2005 Defensive Rookie of the Year has been in decline the last couple of season. In his first three season in the league (2005-07), Merriman played in 42 games, piling up 39.5 sacks, 15 passes defended, 10 forced fumbles, and 1 Interception. His last two seasons, he’s only played 15 of a possible 32 regular season games, compiling just 4 sacks, no interceptions or forced fumbles. Last season, he played average at best and had very little impact on games like in previous seasons.

So why the big drop off?

Merriman injured both his PCL and LCL ligaments in his knee in a December, 2007 game against the Tennessee Titans. Early in the off season, the Chargers’ team doctors told him he needed surgery to repair the damage so he could play in 2008. Merriman, however, sought the opinion of three other doctors, who all agreed surgery was needed. Merriman, however, refused surgery and started training camp on an injured leg, which limited his season to just one game in 2008. He ended up having the surgery which doctors had been advising him to have for months, ending the rest of his 2008 season. Since then, he has not been the dominant and disturbing pass rusher we knew.

Character issues have always seemed to follow Merriman. He was suspended for four games in 2006 for using performance-enhancing drugs. The media created a large circus after his refusal to have the knee surgery in 2008. And who can forget the domestic abuse charges against Merriman by his then girlfriend Tila Tequila.

So while Merriman, might be an interesting pick up for some team, he would not fit in well with the Saints’ locker room. He is too much of a risk to offer him top dollar. His best option now is to take a smaller contract and prove that he still is a dominant player in the league. Only then, will we know how much Merriman has left in the tank.

Please continue emailing your questions to saintsgab@yahoo.com or via Twitter to @SaintsGab.


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