Lights out for Merriman after DE cut by Bills
It’s lights out for Shawne Merriman in Buffalo after the Bills
cut the one-time star pass rusher Monday.
General manager Buddy Nix said the decision was based in part on
the potential the Bills saw in two younger players who had been
competing with Merriman for the fourth defensive end spot.
”We think we’ve been patient, but it comes to a point where we
felt like we needed to move on and look down the road,” Nix said
shortly before the Bills returned to practice from a two-day break.
”We need to look past this week. We need to look further down the
Though Nix wouldn’t say which two players were competing for the
roster spot left open by Merriman’s release, the Bills’ latest
depth chart had Robert Eddins move up into the backup position
behind Mario Williams.
Kyle Moore, a third-year player signed off Detroit’s practice
squad last November, has also looked impressive through the first
month of training camp.
Nix said Merriman’s health wasn’t an issue and added he made the
move now to provide the player a better chance to sign with another
The move does allow the Bills (No. 19 in the AP Pro32) to save a
portion of the $4 million salary Merriman was scheduled to make in
the final year of his contract.
Merriman’s release was regarded as a mild surprise for a former
three-time Pro Bowl selection, who described himself as being in
his best shape in years after having season-ending surgery in
November to repair a partially torn right Achilles tendon. It’s an
injury that had nagged him for much of the previous two
The Bills had kept their faith in Merriman, believing the
28-year-old had an opportunity to play a key backup role on a
defensive line that was revamped in free agency this offseason with
an eye on pressuring quarterbacks.
Buffalo signed Williams to a six-year, $100 million contract,
and then landed pass-rushing defensive end Mark Anderson.
Merriman had spent much of training camp backing up both
Williams and Anderson.
Merriman posted a note on his Twitter account shortly after
being released, thanking the team, coaches, his teammates and fans
for his time in Buffalo.
Though Merriman missed a few practices nursing a twisted ankle
and sore hamstring, the Bills gave no indication his job was in
Merriman was credited with three tackles in two preseason games.
He had one tackle and played with the backups well into the second
half of Buffalo’s 36-14 loss at Minnesota on Friday.
Coach Chan Gailey called Merriman expendable because the Bills
have three veteran defensive ends, including Chris Kelsay, allowing
the team the opportunity to develop a younger player.
”He was doing a good job, but it wasn’t where we thought he
needed to be as far as the other guys that were playing the
position,” Gailey said.
He also questioned whether Merriman was better suited to play
the linebacker spot in a 3-4 defense, as opposed to trying to fit
in as a defensive end after the Bills made the switch to a 4-3 this
The seventh-year player was entering his third season in
Buffalo. The Bills claimed him off waivers after he was cut by San
Diego in November 2010.
He finished the 2010 season on injured reserve after aggravating
the injury to his Achilles tendon a half hour into his first
practice with Buffalo. Merriman had two sacks in five starts with
the Bills last season before landing on IR to have surgery on his
Achilles and also repair a nagging shoulder injury.
Merriman, on numerous occasions this offseason, suggested he
”I feel young,” Merriman said in May. ”Anybody that will get
a chance to watch me this year will see I’m moving around as I did
when I came into the league.”
The NFL’s 2005 defensive rookie of the year, Merriman was at his
peak upon breaking into the NFL after being drafted 12th overall by
He earned the nickname ”Lights Out,” after generating 39 1/2
sacks through his first three seasons before injuries slowed his
production. Merriman combined for just six sacks in his past four
seasons, a stretch in which he appeared in only 23 games.
Gailey credited Merriman for his perseverance in the face of
”He did a great job of fighting back from where he was,”
Gailey said. ”I’ve got to give him a lot of credit because it
would’ve been easy to bail.”
Online: http://bigstory.ap.org/NFL-Pro32 and