As he walked out of the stadium Sunday, after a stunning 17-14 season-ending loss to the Jets, Merriman reflected on it.
"This may be it, there is a really good chance this may be it," Merriman said. "Ultimately, I don’t want it to be the end. But if it is, I tried really hard here."
Depending on whether there is a new collective bargaining agreement, Merriman will be either an unrestricted or a restricted free agent. The odds are he will be a restricted free agent. Even though his sack totals dwindled this year after he came back from a debilitating knee surgery that kept him out of all but one game in 2008, Merriman played well in 2009 and showed his trademark tenacity all season.
Merriman, the No. 12 overall draft pick in 2005, now wants his work ethic to be recognized by the Chargers.
"I want to be shown respect by the team,” Merriman said. "I don’t know if the team respects me. That’s hard to do because I know I try really hard and I’m a big part of the locker room. I love my teammates and I want to be come. But I don’t know if I’m wanted back."
There were rumors earlier in the season that San Diego was shopping Merriman in trade talks. Such talks were never substantiated. But Merriman said he assumes he was being shopped because he wasn’t told otherwise.
"Fourteen weeks ago, I was on the trading block," Merriman said. "I was never pulled aside and told not to worry about it."
Despite his desire to be shown his due respect, Merriman said he hopes it works out in San Diego.
"This is where I want to be," he said.
Merriman is one of several potential free agents in San Diego. Others include receiver Vincent Jackson, running back Darren Sproles and tackle Marcus McNeill. The team also could part ways with 30-year-old running back LaDainian Tomlinson, whose production has slipped dramatically.