The negotiations never turned messy – and Smith would have been the first to go public had it gotten to that point. The clamoring around town got so unreal that some had him going back into the draft in 2006.
But behind the closed doors, the two sides worked diligently to make sure that this had a happy ending.
"It was give and take and over very quickly and in the end, everyone smiled," said Smith. "It was great."
The sides agreed on a deal that guarantees Merriman $9 million and gives him a chance to earn over $15 million.
A junior entrant into the NFL Draft, Shawne Merriman quickly rose up the draft boards as the days turned to April. Nicknamed "Lights Out" because of his ability to hit and knock players out of the game, Merriman recorded 85 tackles, 17 for a loss, with 8.5 sacks and three forced fumbles as a junior.
At 6-foot-4, 272 pounds, the plan is to use Merriman at linebacker according to head coach Marty Schottenheimer.
When will he be ready is another story.
"We have work to do to get him ready," said Schottenheimer. "It is mentally and physically demanding.
"We have not been able to spend enough time around him to be able to determine how quickly he will absorb the stuff and be able to carry it to the field and apply it."
In 38 games at Maryland, Merriman recorded 189 tackles (125 solos) with 22 sacks for minus-127 yards, 33.5 tackles for a loss, 27 quarterback pressures, four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. His 22 career sacks rank second on the school's career-record list, topped only by Mike Corvino (24, 1979-82).
The Chargers, desperate to add a pass rush to their defense, see Merriman as the answer.
"He adds a lot to our football team," Smith admitted.
"He's a good athlete," added Schottenheimer. "He will get better. He will improve each and every day."
That starts upon his arrival to San Diego. Merriman is expected to suit up for the evening practice on Tuesday.
"Time to go to work and be a professional football player," said Smith.