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NFL San Diego Chargers

Former San Diego Chargers Linebacker Shawne Merriman Retires

Shawne Merriman San Diego Chargers

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It’s unfortunately “Lights Out” for Shawne Merriman’s career.

On Tuesday, one week before he was set to be a free agent, former San Diego Chargers and Buffalo Bills pass rusher Shawne Merriman called it quits after years of injuries derailed his once Hall of Fame-pace career.

“I retire today not because I don’t feel I can go out there and still play the game at a very high level,” Merriman wrote on his website. “I am retiring because I want to retire on my own terms and leave while I know I can still physically play the game.”

Merriman may still believe he can play, but wasn’t given much of an opportunity to. In Buffalo this past season, he was as healthy as he ever was, but recorded just 17 tackles and one sack in limited playing time. Since 2008, Merriman has dealt with knee, foot and Achilles ailments which forced him out of more games than he played. Due of his injuries, he became ineffective even when he was able to play, recording just six sacks over the last five seasons.

Merriman was once considered the NFL’s best pass rusher. In his first three seasons in the league, he recorded 39.5 sacks, while earning the 2005 Defensive Rookie of the Year award, three Pro Bowls and three All-Pro selections.

The Chargers defense was dominant when Merriman was healthy, and unfortunately hasn’t been the same since his injuries and departure. San Diego was 34-14 from 2005-2007, while the defense gave up an average of 18.7 points per game. The Chargers have yet to replace his production.

Just imagine if Merriman remained healthy throughout his career. Merriman and Shaun Phillips would’ve paired together for years to make one of the top pass rushing threats in the NFL. When the Chargers had one of the top offenses in the league from 2008-2010, the defense would’ve been right there with them. Unfortunately, Merriman’s injuries ruined his career and San Diego’s chances.

Kevin Chan is a San Diego Chargers writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.