The Chargers, for obvious reasons, would prefer Merriman choose No. 1. If nothing else, the team is using all of its powers of persuasion to prevent him from selecting No. 3, which would deliver a huge blow to the Bolts' Super Bowl hopes.
However, Merriman may be wary of heeding any self-serving advice. After all, it was just last season that a foot specialist told Nick Hardwick that his foot injury was just a minor tweak and that he could do no further harm by playing on it, according to a report by the Union Tribune.
LB Shawne Merriman
As is always the case, teams want their star players to play through the pain. The Bolts will appeal to the competitor in Merriman, just as they did with Hardwick, to try to get him on the field as soon as possible.
Head Coach Norv Turner appears optimistic Merriman will be in the starting lineup on opening day. It remains to be seen if that is because Turner is confident Merriman will be healthy enough to play, or if Turner's statement is a means of pressuring Merriman into playing through the injury.
Merriman is going to make a decision in his own best interests. He is two seasons away from unrestricted free agency and wants to position himself for a massive contract, be it from the Chargers or someone else. If he feels that undergoing reconstructive surgery now will allow him to come back healthy in his contract year -- and in the five or six years that follow -- that is what he will likely do.
More likely, he and the Chargers will find a compromise that gets him onto the field at some point in 2008. The last thing Merriman wants is to be known as the next Jeremy Shockey. If Merriman misses the 2008 season and the Chargers go on to win the Super Bowl without him, that's exactly what will happen.
Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the Scout.com network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 15 years and covered the team since 2003.