What Shawne Merriman Release Means for Buffalo Bills Future

Chris Trapasso@ChrisTrapassoAnalyst IAugust 20, 2012

TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 07: Shawne Merriman of the Buffalo Bills stands on the field prior to play against the Chicago Bears at Rogers Centre on November 7, 2010 in Toronto, Canada. Merriman was claimed this week after being waived by the San Diego Chargers. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

Now that the Shawne Merriman experiment in Buffalo is officially over, it's time to examine where the Bills go from here. 

Many were initially stunned upon catching word of the announcement, but it really doesn't come as much of a surprise.   

The news of his release was first reported Fox Sports' Jay Glazer via Twitter. 

Bills have informed Shawne Merriman that they are releasing him today.

— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) August 20, 2012

First, and most importantly, the former San Diego Charger great wasn't set to be a major facet or important piece on the Bills defense in 2012. Clearly, after the acquisition of Mario Williams and Mark Anderson, the team had their starting defensive ends. 

At best, Merriman would have played in an extremely situational role, entering the game on traditional passing downs only to give Williams, Anderson or even Chris Kelsay a breather, which would have been a rare occurrence. 

During the first two preseason games, Merriman had played in portions of the second quarter and well into the third quarters against both the Washington Redskins and Minnesota Vikings

His position on the depth chart was well-defined. 

In the offseason, the 28-year-old edge-rusher told BuffaloBills.com the following regarding his health: "Absolutely I’m going to be 100 percent, I’m at full speed and I’ll look good running, changing direction and all that stuff."

While Merriman's claim led to a new-found optimism in Buffalo, the fact remains that Merriman simply couldn't stay healthy over the last two-and-a-half seasons.

In 2010, after being picked up on waivers by an winless Bills team, Merriman was shut down for the year after re-aggravating the Achilles he tore while in San Diego 15 minutes into his first practice. In 2011, an apparently revamped Merriman played sparingly in five games and recorded one sack against the Cincinnati Bengals, but a shoulder injury prematurely ended his season.

Buffalo paid him a $1 million roster bonus this offseason, but was set to pay him $4 million in base salary if he made the opening day roster. 

Merriman's release won't have a major affect, if any at all, on Dave Wannstedt's defensive game plan in 2012.

Look for former Tampa Bay Buccaneers' fourth-round pick Kyle Moore, who the Bills signed off the Detroit Lions practice squad last season to make the roster as the team's third LDE behind Mario Williams and Chris Kelsay. He'll likely play in the role that many believed Merriman would fit into this season. 

Moore's not an explosive pass-rusher, but he had a respectable training camp and has shown glimpses of his potential in the team's first two preseason outings. 

As it turns out, Merriman's signing and re-signing wasn't an intelligent decision by the Bills' front office. Yes, he apparently "led" to guys like Nick Barnett and Brad Smith signing with Buffalo, but the team didn't invest in the edge-rusher to be a recruiter. 

It was obvious that Merriman's burst wasn't what it once was, and the chances of him staying healthy for an entire season weren't good. 

So, instead of digging the hole $4 million deeper, the Bills decided to cut their losses and release Merriman. From an organizational reputation standpoint, the Merriman experiment and subsequent release will be remembered as another ill-advised decision for a team that hasn't made the playoffs since 1999. 

From a personnel and schematic perspective, Merriman's release will hardly be noticed. 


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