Why the Denver Broncos Need To Sign Shawne Merriman

Jason MuckleySenior Analyst IIOctober 14, 2010

Shawne Merriman would provide a much-needed pass rusher to a banged up Broncos secondary.
Shawne Merriman would provide a much-needed pass rusher to a banged up Broncos secondary.Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Shawne Merriman is soon to receive a pink slip from the San Diego Chargers.

This week, Merriman was put on injured reserve with a calf injury, resulting in a “minor injury designation”. When he becomes healthy, the Chargers will be forced to release him.

I submit that this would be an opportunity too good to pass up for the Denver Broncos, who have struggled all season with injuries. Just this past week, head coach Josh McDaniels announced that five players have been ruled out of this week's upcoming contest with the New York Jets.

Once available, Merriman would provide immediate help at outside linebacker, and Mario Haggan, who played inside linebacker all season last year, could fill the void left by Robert Ayer's injury last week against Baltimore.

In the preseason, the Broncos lost one of the premier pass rushers in the league, Elvis Dumervil, to a pectoral muscle injury, which required surgery to repair. Since then, Haggan has filled in for Dumervil, but with little effect. Ayers recorded 1.5 solo sacks before the injury in Week 5 and was arguably the best pass rusher on a Broncos team with only five sacks so far this season.

In a report by NFL.com, Merriman is quoted as saying, “I have been blessed to call San Diego my home for the past six years. I can't say enough about my teammates, the coaching staff and of course the fans who have made my career with the Chargers such an amazing experience. I am approaching this situation as an opportunity to grow as a player and to bring my leadership and talents to a new organization. I am ready for the next chapter in my career, and I am excited about the opportunity to continue my journey with a new team."

Despite the division rivalry with the Chargers, the Broncos and their fans would be wise to welcome such an opportunity should it fall in their laps. In recent years with the Chargers, there has seemed to be a falling out between Merriman and general manager A.J. Smith, which most believe has led to the Chargers placing Merrmian on IR.

Though recent production has dropped since his first three years in the league, when he recorded 39.5 sacks, the 26-year-old Merriman still has great potential and many great years ahead of him. Although Merriman may not be the prototypical hire for Josh McDaniels, with a little instruction and faith, the Broncos could salvage a season that seems to be plummeting faster than the Titanic.

If the Broncos picked up Merriman, it would also be motivation for the dynamic linebacker in future games against his former team, whom he would face at least twice per season.

A few worries that the Broncos might have with Merriman would be his arrest prior to the 2009 season when he was caught up in a spat with reality television star Tila Tequila. She accused him of battery and false imprisonment at his suburban San Diego home. The charges were never filed, and the two settled lawsuits.

Also, in 2008, Merriman underwent reconstructive surgery on his knee, and he was sidelined most of the season. This season, in limited action, he has five tackles and no sacks.

It was evident at the start of the season that Merriman had become unhappy in San Diego, as he sat out much of the offseason protesting his contract. Once he did return, he missed the season opener with an achilles injury and then also suffered a calf injury last week against the Raiders.

Despite the risk, the reward could save the Broncos season, which has seen so many valuable starters lost to injury all across the roster.

Merriman wants to turn over a new leaf in his NFL career, and Denver might be just the change of scenery he needs to restore his aggressive, fierce style of play. The faltering Denver defense would also greatly benefit from Merriman's “leadership” qualities and intensity on the field. Especially with Brian Dawkins out for a few weeks.

The Broncos could be the place Merriman grows out of some of his bad habits and turns over a new leaf on a team which prides itself on being physical and tough.