Joey Bosa was one of the best prospects, if not the best prospect, in this year’s NFL Draft, which is why he was the first non-quarterback off the board. He’s an athletic freak who terrorized the Big Ten for years and led Ohio State to a national championship.
And yet, for whatever reason, he remains unsigned in San Diego.
“I went through the same thing,” former Chargers great and NFL Defensive Player of the Year Shawne Merriman said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “I don’t know the specifics of this contract, but in my situation, it was about the injury clause and the language. I know right now it’s not beneficial for either side for him to be sitting on the sidelines. I know the late start that I had in trying to get my body back in shape and getting used to hustling to the ball and getting back to the huddle and turning and changing directions, my groin and my lower back was tight – I had a lot of catching up to do.”
Merriman, then 21, also had to learn San Diego’s playbook, which he called an “encyclopedia.”
“Thank God I had Wade Phillips there who just let me go out and play without fully understanding the playbook just yet,” Merriman said. “Because it was hard. So I think at some point in time, he needs to get in there. . . . The Spanos family, they’re a great family. I love them to death. I loved the organization and playing in San Diego. But it’s a business. If a guy goes down and gets hurt, he has to be protected. If he’s not protected, then what is he the third pick in the draft for? You have to listen to your representation no matter what, and Joey Bosa, he’s a guy (who) wants to be on the field. I got a chance to spend some time with him right after the draft, and he didn’t show me any signs of a guy who didn’t want to play football. He wants to be on the field, but that contract thing has to get worked out first.”
Merriman played for the Chargers from 2005 to 2010, during which San Diego made four playoff appearances and advanced to the AFC Championship in January 2008, ultimately losing to the Patriots. Since Merriman left San Diego, the Chargers have missed the playoffs four times in five seasons.
“We were stacked (when I was there, but) it’s been awhile for them,” Merriman said. “They don’t have three or four Pro Bowlers on the defensive side of the ball. They don’t have two or there offensive linemen that are Pro Bowlers and All Pros. They literally went through a phase where they’re bringing in new talent, new people, and Philip (Rivers) is left there (with a lot of moving parts). Philip just really couldn’t showcase who Philip is, and I felt bad for him (during) that time.”
He’ll feel even worse for Rivers if the Chargers leave San Diego, but in the end, Merriman thinks the franchise will stay put.
“No doubt about it,” he said. “I think it gets done, and it gets done in San Diego. (They) shouldn’t be anywhere else. San Diego is the best place to live in the country. I don’t care what anyone says. It’s the best place to live and the best place to be. Look, the fans are great, and the thing is, you just have to win. You have to win football games, and I don’t see them getting up and leaving and going anywhere else, especially when you have such a supportive fan base there in San Diego. San Diego is not the L.A. Chargers. It’s not anywhere else. They need and deserve to be in San Diego, and I think they should get it done.”