Shawne Merriman: The 5 Teams That Could Most Use His Services

Carl D. CarlucciCorrespondent IOctober 20, 2010

Shawne Merriman: The 5 Teams That Could Most Use His Services

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    Shawne Merriman, at just 26 years old, may well have something left in the tank.

    While he may never be the pass-rushing force he was from 2005-2007, some teams can still use his services. If utilized correctly, Merriman can be turned into a situational pass rusher or an ordinary down-lineman. It all depends on what coach gets hold of him and attempts to mold the second part of his career.

    With his 6'4" 265-pound frame, Merriman could land on a team with an aggressive defensive coordinator that unleashes him on obvious passing downs, or his coaches could have him focus on fundamentals. Luckily for Merriman, he is the right size to play either outside linebacker in a 3-4 or defensive end in a 4-3.

    Though all five of these teams do not share a base defensive scheme, they all share two traits: a lack of a pass rush, in general, and more importantly, lack of a pass rush from positions where pressure on the quarterback traditionally comes from in those schemes and an inability to stop opposing team's running games. So no matter what the scheme or what the coaches ask Merriman to do, all five teams can definitely use his services.

    Merriman must first get completely healthy, however, because he will be no good to any team if he can't stay on the field.

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    The Buccaneers play a base 4-3 defense, so Merriman would be lining up at defensive end on this team.

    They invested their first two draft picks on defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Brian Price, but they remain thin and inexperienced on the defensive line, especially at the defensive end position.

    In any solid 4-3 defense, the pressure on the quarterback needs to come from the defensive lineman. Take for example the Tennessee Titans, whose defensive line rotation has accounted for 19 of the team's league leading 24 sacks.

    The Buccaneers have just four sacks total.

    Even if Merriman does not provide a consistent pass rush, he should give the Buccaneers a solid veteran presence in their defensive line rotation.

2. Buffalo Bills

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    Little-known fact, Billy Buffalo here is the Bills' most fearsome pass rusher.

    Under new head coach Chan Gailey, the Bills have switched from a 4-3 base to a 3-4 base. As is usually the case in the first year of a change in defensive scheme, the Bills have the wrong personnel for their new scheme.

    Aaron Maybin, drafted in the first round of the 2009 draft, has not recorded a sack in his first 21 NFL games.

    Buffalo's other outside linebackers include 30-year-old former defensive end Chris Kelsay, career backup Reggie Torbor and rookie Antonio Coleman.

    Once again, even if Merriman cannot provide a consistent pass rush anymore, he should still provide solid, veteran depth to the Bills group of linebackers.

    And he has to be a better pass rusher than Billy Buffalo, right?

3. Carolina Panthers

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    The Panthers have invested draft picks on their defensive front seven in the past two years in the hopes of replacing Julius Peppers.

    So far it hasn't worked too well.

    Players such as Everette Brown, Eric Norwood and Greg Hardy have failed to replace the production of Peppers and it has shown. The Panthers only have seven sacks in 2010.

    Adding Merriman to their defensive line could only help infuse a level of talent that is only present along the unit in the potential of young players like Brown, Norwood and Hardy.

4. Arizona Cardinals

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    The Cardinals depend on past-their-prime Steelers to generate a pass rush from the edge in their 3-4 defense.

    Even if Joey Porter and Clark Haggans were doing an adequate job, which they're not, they can't do it forever, as both are 33.

    Merriman would provide the Cardinals with a younger reclamation project to take on.

    Adding to the need for Merriman is the fact that the Cardinals have very little in terms of depth at the outside linebacker position. Two young, seemingly career backups in Will Davis and Alex Hall are all the Cardinals have behind the aging ex-Steelers.

5. Denver Broncos

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    The Broncos are another 3-4 team that doesn't generate enough of a pass rush with their outside linebackers.

    Part of the problem is the absence of 2009 NFL sack leader Elivs Dumervil, who suffered a season ending injury in preseason.

    Second year man Robery Ayers seems to be developing. Adding Merriman to the group of outside linebackers could only make it deeper and scarier heading into the 2011 season. A healthy Dumervil and Merriman, combined with a first-round pick coming into his third year, would provide a fearsome pass rush.

    Also, signing Merriman and letting him go at Philip Rivers, his former Chargers teammate, twice a season could only be a satisfactory experience for the Broncos and their fans.