Today marked the end to the Shawn Merriman experiment in Buffalo, as the team announced that he had been released this morning. In the end he only played in five games with the Bills, recording seven tackles and one sack. Its a far cry from what the Bills were hoping for when he was brought in, but don’t think of this being an absolute failure for the team. It was always thought of as a risk, and one that the team had little to lose on.
The Bills picked up Merriman off waivers after an injury with the Chargers, so nothing needed to be given up in return. The past few years with San Diego had been a far cry from his prime, as injuries had riddled his career. The Bills hoped that once healthy he could show a glimpse of the Merriman of old and help out the pass rush. If not, the team would move ahead without him. Nothing would be lost in the end.
Buzz surrounded the team as Merriman came to Buffalo, but it only took 15 minutes of practice for Merriman to get hurt again. Being out for the rest of the season, few thought he’d ever suit up in a Bills uniform. However at the end of the year he signed a two year agreement with the team worth 10 million dollars.
The injuries continued, and Merriman remained a big name that had no big production. His season was cut short due to another injury, a partially torn Achilles. This preseason he saw minimal time, working mostly with the third team defense in the two preseason games.
Even though he never succeeded, bringing Merriman to Buffalo wasn’t an absolute flop. Probably the best thing Merriman did for Buffalo had nothing to do with his play on the field, but the respect he’d earned around the league. Nick Barnett has said that Merriman was a big reason why he signed with the Bills. It helped put Buffalo on the map a bit more, and show they were willing to spend a bit of money.
The Bills defense is in much better shape then when Shawn Merriman arrived, especially on the line. He slowly was pushed down the depth chart, especially with the additions of Mario Williams and Mark Anderson. Even if he had shown a bit more with the team he was slowly becoming expendable. Its thought that the team released him early so he’d be able to be signed by someone else, and if that’s true I applaud them. It was obvious due to his playing time that he was most likely not going to be an important part to this defense, even if healthy.
The Bills and Merriman part ways now, and both sides move on. Buffalo now has one more roster spot open for someone else to fill, and Merriman now begins his search for his third NFL team. Even though it wasn’t great here, I wish Merriman the best. I was excited on day one of his signing, and have held out hope for him ever since. I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.