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Report: Merriman trade talks died due to agent; Saints were involved

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Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman might have switched representation after agent Tom Condon's high demands for a long-term contract contributed to three draft-weekend deals falling through, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported Wednesday, citing sources.

Merriman, who said last month on NFL Network that he feels "a bit underappreciated" by the Chargers, hasn't signed his first- and third-round tender worth $3.27 million. He wants a long-term deal, and that apparently led the Chargers to open trade talks with other teams during the draft.

According to Union-Tribune sources, the Chargers' discussions with the New Orleans Saints and two other teams died because those clubs couldn't agree with Condon on a long-term deal for Merriman. The sources also said the Chargers wouldn't budge from acquiring a first-round draft pick in return.

Shortly after, Merriman fired Condon and agreed to be represented by David Dunn, another high-profile NFL agent. And Merriman still could be dealt: The Union-Tribune reported that the Chargers told other teams the three-time Pro Bowl linebacker likely will be available through the October trading deadline.

Merriman has skipped the Chargers' offseason workouts, but he visited the NFL Network "Total Access" set last month and was candid in his feelings about his situation. The uncapped 2010 season resulted in players having to wait six years for unrestricted free agency rather than four, affecting Merriman's ability to shop his services.

"I don't think it's an issue with me and management. I think it's a situation I've been put in, along with 212 other guys," said Merriman, a five-year NFL veteran who's now a restricted free agent. "I've expressed to them many times that I want to be there. I do not even envision myself playing somewhere else. But right now I don't know if that's the case."

Chargers general manager A.J. Smith wouldn't comment on Merriman's future with the team when contacted Wednesday by the Union-Tribune.

"Shawne was tendered," Smith said. "Our intentions are that he would play for us this year. If there are any other developments, we will let you know."

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Merriman compiled 39.5 sacks in his first three seasons -- making the Pro Bowl each time -- but he has struggled the past two years, partly because of injuries. He missed all but the season opener in 2008 with torn ligaments in his left knee. Last season, he sat out two games while dealing with nagging foot and groin injuries and finished with just four sacks.

"Yeah, I had a rough year," Merriman said last month. "Yeah, I had a groin and a foot injury that really slowed me down a whole lot. I came back from something that was tough for many guys to do, and right now, I'm more concentrated on getting back on the field 100 percent and performing like I do.

"There's nothing more important to me than going out there and providing the things that I've been doing for my team for five years now. That's the most important thing going on in my life and how I can get back and play great football."


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