SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego Chargers took a step towards divorcing themselves from linebacker Shawne Merriman on Wednesday.
The franchise placed the six-year veteran on injured reserve with a minor-injury designation, meaning that when the team and Merriman agree he is recovered from a bothersome calf issue, he will be released and will be able to sign with any team as a free agent.
Merriman has played in three of San Diego's five games thus far this season, limited to just six tackles.
He was inactive for a Week 1 loss at Kansas City with an Achilles issue, then after suffering the calf injury during a Week 3 loss at Seattle, Merriman was on the sideline during a Week 4 rout of Arizona. The calf was reinjured during San Diego's 35-27 setback at Oakland last Sunday.
Since breaking in with the Bolts as a first-round pick (12th overall) in the 2005 NFL Draft out of the University of Maryland, Merriman has compiled 232 tackles, 43 1/2 sacks and one interception in 60 contests.
A Pro Bowl pick in each of his first three seasons with San Diego, Merriman missed all but the first game of the 2008 campaign because a knee injury and last year played 14 games while dealing with foot and groin problems.
After tallying 39 1/2 sacks in his first three seasons, Merriman has had just four since.
With the move, Merriman joins Donald Butler, James Holt and Jyles Tucker from the linebacker corps on injured reserve. Larry English is also expected to miss 2-4 more weeks following foot surgery performed at the end of September.