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Thursday, January 28, 2010
Merriman to Green Bay and other fantasies

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

Here is a fun late-January Twitter conversation between Green Bay linebacker Nick Barnett (@nickbarnett), ESPN’s Trey Wingo (@wingoz) and Green Bay tailback Ryan Grant (@RyanGrant25):

Barnett: What you guys think @shawnemerriman in the green and gold????
Wingo: @NickBarnett more to the poit [sic] nick, what do YOU think?
Grant: @wingoz I think that's a great idea
Barnett: @wingoz I think he is a great player but honestly. I would like to see us get Kampman back. One free agent I would like to see Dwan Edwards
Barnett: @wingoz but don't get me wrong if we don't get kamp back would love to have him... But he would have to change his number lol

To translate for the non-Twitterati, Barnett was playfully suggesting the idea of Green Bay signing San Diego linebacker Shawne Merriman this offseason if incumbent Aaron Kampman doesn’t return. (Like Barnett, Merriman wears No. 56.) Barnett also referred to Baltimore defensive end Dwan Edwards.

This is all fun to discuss with more than a month remaining before the start of free agency, but it also gives us an opportunity to discuss a number of semi-serious issues:

First, both Merriman and Edwards will be restricted free agents if the NFL moves to an uncapped system, as expected. At the very least, that means the Chargers and Ravens, respectively, would have the right to match any offer the players receive. Both teams could also be eligible for draft-choice compensation if they decide against matching. (By the way, here's the last we've heard from Merriman, courtesy AFC West colleague Bill Williamson.)

Second, the Kampman issue is going to be one the Packers will have on their plate for a while. Not only is he recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament, but he also proved to be a middling fit for the 3-4 defense last season. The Packers must separate medical, financial and schematic decisions about one of their most popular players.

Third, we’re in the all-fantasy part of the NFL offseason. This is the time when fans and players alike start tossing around dream scenarios before the nuts and bolts of free agency actually hit. The reality, as we’ve discussed many times, is the Packers haven’t participated in the free-agent market for the past few years. Throwing draft-choice compensation into the mix only further limits the possibility that a player like Merriman could end up in Green Bay.

But it’s a great trending topic for the last week of January.