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Fellow outside linebacker Shaun Phillips said he was sad to see Merriman go.

“For me it’s upsetting because he was a friend of mine. That’s why it’s hard to see him go,” Phillips said “But I’ve found that this league stands for Not For Long for a reason. I’ve seen hundreds of people come and go. I wish him the best and he’s the homie, he’s a good friend of mine so I know he’s going to do good whatever he decides to do.”

Merriman was the 12th pick overall in the 2005 draft, coming to the Chargers with one of the picks Smith got from the New York Giants in the Eli Manning-Philip Rivers swap on draft day 2004. Merriman was The AP’s Defensive Rookie of the Year after getting 10 sacks in 2005. He made the Pro Bowl after each of his first three seasons, and was named All-Pro in 2006 despite the suspension.

The Chargers drafted outside linebacker Larry English in the first round in 2009 as Merriman’s eventual replacement. English had only two sacks last year. He recently had foot surgery and has missed three games, and is expected to miss two to four more games.

The Chargers (2-3), struggling due to special teams breakdowns and turnovers, signed linebacker Antwan Barnes to take Merriman’s roster spot.

Barnes spent his first three seasons in Baltimore and was traded to Philadelphia on Sept. 4 for a seventh-round draft choice. Barnes was waived by the Eagles on Saturday.

Barnes had five sacks in three seasons with Baltimore, and intercepted San Diego’s Philip Rivers when the Ravens faced the Chargers in 2009.

San Diego also added receiver Kole Heckendorf to the practice squad.