Shawne Merriman

I'll smash your face! When I'm not getting arrested or suspended.

It’s complete and total fantasy, but it’s a fantasy started by Green Bay Packers inside linebacker Nick Barnett, so we’ll explore it.

If you watch football, you probably know Shawne Merriman is an outside linebacker for the San Diego Chargers. Merriman would have been an unrestricted free agent this offseason, but will now be restricted because of the lack of a collective bargaining agreement. That doesn’t bode well for the Packers or anyone else signing him, you say?

Well, the Chargers have a lot of players who don’t have contracts entering the 2010 season. Among them are running back Darren Sproles, starting receivers Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd, and starting tackle Marcus McNeill. Jackson will get a huge contract and decent NFL tackles don’t come cheap, either. Sproles is also likely in for a decent payday, since the future of LaDainian Tomlinson is uncertain.

There have been whispers around NFL circles that the Charges may consider non-tendering or trading Merriman, both because they can’t afford to pay all of the aforementioned free agents top dollar and because they feel his skills are declining. If the team were to go the non-tender route, which is unlikely, Merriman would be free to sign anywhere.

Still, it’s possible. In addition to registering only 36 tackles and four sacks in 14 games in 2009, Merriman has been a distraction off the field. In 2006, Merriman was suspended four games by the league for testing positive for steroids. This season, he was arrested for allegedly choking reality star and girlfriend Tila Tequila and has been in an ongoing legal battle with her.

Then there’s the knee injury – the one that caused him to miss all but one game of the 2008 season and seemed to rob him of some explosiveness during the 2009 season.

So, why the hell would the Packers even want Merriman? Well, when he was on his game, he was one of the most explosive outside linebackers in football. In his first three seasons, Merriman registered 39.5 sacks and some observers believe he won’t be fully recovered from knee surgery until next season – he did tear two ligaments in his left knee.

To say Merriman is a risk is an understatement, and if the Chargers tender him only to try and trade him, you can count the Packers out, knowing general manager Ted Thompson’s history.

However, if Merriman is a free agent, he’s definitely worth a shot at the right number. Just ask Nick Barnett, who said if the Packers don’t sign Aaron Kampman (which is entirely possible) he’d love to play with Merriman.

Will it happen? My guess is the odds are close to: not a chance in hell. Still, it’s fun to think of what a healthy Shawn Merriman/Clay Matthews pair of bookends would do in Green Bay.

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