Another year, another holdout in San Diego

The Chargers were hoping this year might be different with their top pick. In recent years, quarterback Philip Rivers, cornerback Quentin Jammer, running back LaDainian Tomlinson and quarterback Drew Brees missed considerable training camp time when wrestling with the Chargers over their first contracts.

Thus, perhaps it is no surprise that there is still no sight of the Chargers' runaway linebacker, first-round pick Shawne Merriman, albeit under different circumstances.

Merriman, and his agent, Kevin Poston, have declined to participate in the team's offseason workouts. They are uncomfortable with the Chargers negotiating in good faith if by chance Merriman, the draft's 12th overall pick, was hurt before signing his rich contract.

The latest is Poston contacting general manager A.J. Smith and offering to let Merriman attend the offseason meetings, but not do any work on the field work.

But that went over with Smith about as well as someone offering him an Eli Manning souvenir jersey. While Smith appreciated Poston's attempt to get his client into the meetings and interacting with coaches, it didn't take long for him to deliver a resounding "no."

Smith told Poston they would talk again after July 4, when the Chargers begin negotiations with their seven draft picks.

"We will offer him a great contract that will either be accepted and everyone is happy and he will join the Chargers and go to work, or he will be unhappy with the Chargers' contract, and I think I know what happens from there," Smith said.

"We move on and wish him the best."

It hasn't been the best of beginnings for Merriman and the Chargers. Many feel Merriman pulled a fast one by hiring the hard-nosed Poston after being represented by Gary Wichard prior to the draft.

Then Poston dropped his bombshell on the Chargers, just before they were eager to embrace Merriman and get him acclimated to the NFL's ways.

The first impression given by Merriman and his counsel is the Chargers could be in for another protracted dog fight come July.

Smith, for his part, seems to be digging his heels in early for the battle that will ensue.

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