Teams have until 4 p.m. ET Wednesday to make a claim for Merriman or he will become an unrestricted free agent. Any team that claims the linebacker will owe him the remainder of his $3.269 million 2010 salary.
The Chargers also placed wide receiver Buster Davis on injured reserve and re-signed tackle Adam Terry.
The Merriman move has been expected since the Chargers placed him on the injured reserve list with a "minor-injury" designation on Oct. 13 due to a calf injury.
Known as "Lights Out" because of his once-ferocious hits, Merriman led the NFL with 39.5 sacks during his first three seasons (2005-07). He has had just four in the three seasons since then because of a variety of injuries, including a knee reconstruction that cost him all but one game in 2008.
The NFL suspended Merriman for four games in 2006 after testing positive for steroids. Even though he missed the four games, he had 17 sacks that season. Merriman blamed the positive test on a tainted supplement, which he never identified.
Davis caught 21 passes for 259 yards and a touchdown through seven games, playing with groin and rib injuries that forced him to miss practice at times. He missed Sunday's victory against the Tennessee Titans.
Terry, who was waived Oct. 30, spent the first seven weeks on the roster and was inactive for all but two games.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.