But what can A.J. Smith do? If you remove those four standouts from the roster, the Chargers may not even have a playoff appearance to complain about.
Smith has tried to protect his roster. It's no coincidence his last three first-round picks play the same positions as the players above: LB Larry English, CB Antoine Cason and WR Buster Davis. But Smith's recent draftees have yet to emerge as difference-makers, while his law-breaking posse consistently makes plays on Sundays.
CB Antonio Cromartie
The two players with the greatest chance to be moved because of their lack of character are Merriman and Cromartie. However, Merriman is a restricted free agent and is unlikely to solicit any big offers following his four-sack season. And Cromartie is under contract for another year and is still the team's best man-coverage defender.
Ironically, the only big-name Charger that's a shoe-in to leave this offseason is arguably the classiest player ever to don the blue and gold. That would be RB LaDainian Tomlinson, who is coming off a year of career-lows and is unlikely to see the $2 million bonus he's due in March.
So how will Smith go about rebuilding the character of his roster? It starts through the draft, although it would certainly help his cause if one of his first-round picks turned into a difference-maker, something that hasn't happened since 2006.
Smith will also turn to free agency. Last season's marquee pickup, Kevin Burnett, was a great addition to the locker room and the community. Unfortunately, he lost his starting job to Brandon Siler.
It's as if Smith can find talented players, and he can find high-character players, but he can no longer reel in players who meet both criteria.
That will be his challenge this offseason -- an offseason that will be marred when the apex of talented and classy is shown the door.
Talk about the team's latest character flare-up inside our message boards.
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. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.