San Diego Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman, upset with Chargers management over what he perceives as a lack of job security, will not be on hand when veteran players report to training camp on Friday.
Merriman, who was interviewed Thursday by the San Diego Union-Tribune, would not say how long he planned to hold out.
"I need to know I'm not going to be on the trade block every three weeks," Merriman told the newspaper. "This is literally day to day how things progress, how things move. I don't want this to be a distraction to my teammates. I don't want this to be a distraction to me. I just want to get something resolved soon and go from there. The bottom line is when I get back on the field I plan on doing what I do best, and that is playing."
The Chargers, who finished 13-3 and won the AFC West last season, tendered Merriman, a restricted free agent, at a first and a third-round pick in March. Merriman has not accepted the offer that would pay him $3.269 million this season.
"It's not about me wanting more money," Merriman said to the Union-Tribune. "I will show what I deserve. I don't have to ask for it. I feel like I've proved what I'm worth, and I will still prove it. To me, it really comes down to, 'Am I on the trading block this week? The third week of the season, am I on the block?' Where is that comfortability for me?"
The three-time Pro Bowl linebacker struggled last year, posting only four sacks after sitting out almost the entire 2008 season because of two torn ligaments in his knee. Merriman has also dealt with off-field problems since amassing 39½ sacks in his first three years in the league.
Merriman's then-girlfriend, reality TV personality Tila Tequila, accused Merriman of domestic violence and eventually sued him for damages after the San Diego district attorney dismissed the case. Merriman countersued Tequila, whose real name is Tila Ngyuen, and the two settled out of court in Feb.
Also, Merriman publicly clashed with Chargers general manager A.J. Smith in the media multiple times last season and was suspended for the first four games of the 2006 season for violating the NFL's steroid and related substances policy. Merriman finished that year with 17 sacks.
Merriman's name has been bandied about in trade rumors several times in the past year, including serious discussions with three teams during April's draft that even involved his then-agent, Tom Condon, the Union-Tribune reported on Thursday.
"I have not complained," he said. "I have not caused a distraction by saying I'm not coming in unless I get certain things ... What I do deserve is to not be on the trading block. I deserve stability."
According to The Union-Tribune, Merriman's new agent, David Dunn, has been in discussions with the Chargers over the past month.
Jackson and McNeill, RFAs tendered at the same level as Merriman, are upset with their contracts and have both stated they have no intention of returning to the team without long-term deals. Chargers GM Smith has said no such contracts are forthcoming and the team is prepared to move on without both Jackson and McNeill.
The Chargers also have not signed their first-round pick, running back Ryan Mathews.