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LA Chargers: 5 retired players who could unretire and compete right now

LA Chargers (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
LA Chargers (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
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(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images) – LA Chargers
(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images) – LA Chargers

Former LA Chargers that could come out of retirement: 5. Shawne Merriman

Shawne Merriman was last seen on the LA Chargers in 2010 and was last seen in the NFL in 2012. Common wisdom would say that Merriman is far too old to compete in today’s NFL, but that is not the case at all. Merriman is only 35. Let that sink in.

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James Harrison played until he was 39, Ray Lewis until he was 37, Terrell Suggs, Lorenzo Alexander and Thomas Davis all played significant roles on their respective teams last season and are all 36 or older.

Merriman is not that old, there is precedent for linebackers playing into their late-30s. This simply drives home the fact that Merriman is one of the biggest what-if stories in recent Chargers history.

Merriman was absolutely dominant in his first three seasons. He was a Pro Bowler in all three, an All-Pro in year two, and recorded a combined 39.5 sacks, eight forced fumbles and 37 quarterback hits.

Only four players since sacks started being recorded in 1982 started their career with more sacks in their first three seasons — Reggie White, Derrick Thomas, Aldon Smith and Dwight Freeney.

Then the knee injury happened. Merriman injured his knee in training camp before the 2008 season. The injury was touted as being a career-altering injury, but Merriman attempted to play through it, playing in Week 1 against the Carolina Panthers. That would be the only game he played that season.

He was never the same after that. He did play 14 games the following year but noticeably was not the same player that he was before the knee injury. He missed 13 games the following year and was released.

The Bills signed him and he played two seasons in Buffalo, appearing in 15 of the 32 total games. He retired after the 2012 season.

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Terrible injury luck took someone who could have been one of the best defensive players in franchise history away from the Chargers, someone who absolutely could have been playing, and still producing, in 2020.