The Buffalo Bills re-signed defensive end Shawne Merriman today, in what initially appeared to be an utterly shocking move by an organization that released the once-ferocious and extremely productive defender prior to the start of the 2012 season (h/t Jay Glazer).
I'm here to tell you to take a deep breath, sit back in your chair and...relax.
The name and the previously failed experiments with the former Pro Bowler are much bigger than the eventual impact of the re-signing.
Joe Buscalgia of WGR550 out of Buffalo dove into what the deal really means and explained Merriman's likely role for the remainder of 2012:
Folks misinterpreting. Merriman will be the 4th DE. Not Moore. Meaning Merriman will likely be inactive. Vet presence much like Morrison.— Joe Buscaglia (@JoeBuscaglia) October 15, 2012
This was mostly a speculative thought and subsequent tweet by Buscaglia, but it wasn't made without any basis.
@joebuffalowins Moore was active in the 5th game because of injury to 91. They wanted 7 DL active. Usually 4th DE is odd-man out.— Joe Buscaglia (@JoeBuscaglia) October 15, 2012
Buscaglia is alluding to Kyle Moore, a guy who has slid into the No. 3 defensive end spot that was previously occupied by the now-injured Mark Anderson. He played admirably against the Arizona Cardinals porous offensive line in Week 6.
His spot on the depth chart is undeniably safe.
Spencer Johnson, who Buscaglia refers to by his number, 91, is a rotational defensive tackle that's missed the last two games with an ankle injury.
Based on current circumstances that injuries have created, if this isn't clearly a move to add insurance or depth, I don't know what is.
It was decided before the season that Merriman wasn't able to produce the way he did in the past, and that he wasn't an ideal fit in the system. But a signing had to be made with the club now thin at the defensive end position.
Merriman could be active in the near future if Johnson isn't able to go, but the defensive tackle should be near or close to returning.
Shawne Merriman used to be a big name.
Now, he's merely a role player at best who's familiar with the Bills defensive scheme and a low-risk, low-reward option for Buffalo.
He may see the field, but in all likelihood, he'll be a veteran locker room presence that isn't on the active game day roster.
Either way, this Bills team surely keeps you guessing.