(WECK 1230) — The Buffalo Bills are trying to improve — you have to give them that — and Shawne Merriman is getting his second chance.
By claiming former San Diego Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman off of waivers in an effort to help improve arguably the team’s weakest position, Buddy Nix is trying to find ways to make this team better in the short term and hopefully the long term.
I like the move a lot, but it was not a shocking move by any means. Nix was the guy who drafted the University of Maryland product 12th overall in the 2005 NFL draft. When your 2009 11th overall pick outside linebacker Aaron Maybin is a healthy scratch the past two games and Chris Kelsay, your other outside linebacker, is awful in tight end pass coverage and is getting burned in the open field by the not-so-nimble Matt Cassel, you may have already seen this move coming.
The decision to claim Merriman was a “nothing to lose” or a low risk, high reward type of move, and here’s why:
- This is Merriman’s sixth NFL season, relatively young for an NFL player, and if he can get back into the “lights out” mentality and play that he had 2005-2007, the Bills may be one step closer to improving their pass-rush on the edges and help the defensive backs make some plays. The Bills have recorded only 11 sacks in 7 games, tied for the fifth fewest in the NFL. Remember, he was in the same draft class as DeMarcus Ware of the Cowboys and Lofa Tatupu of Seattle, both of whom are cornerstones of their teams’ defense. Merriman wonthe Associated Press’ Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2005.
- Merriman is in his final year of his contract and reports are saying he won’t suit up this Sunday in Toronto against the Bears, but if he doesn’t pan out the way you want him to in the 3-4 or 4-3 defense, you are only going to have about 1.7 million committed to him for the rest of this season.
- Merriman has eight games to make another name for himself. This is a great opportunity for Merriman to have a short “tryout” if you will with the Bills and for any other teams who might be interested in his services in the future.
Love it or hate it, Merriman is the newest member of the Buffalo Bills. Michael Silver, Yahoo! Sports columnist discussed the move with Jim Rome on his show “Rome is Burning” yesterday and said he didn’t understand why the Bills made the move because of the recent switch from the 3-4 to the 4-3. That is a fair assessment, but there’s no rule that I know of that says that teams can’t make adjustments to their defense mid-season, so we won’t know how successful Merriman will be until he puts on the red and blue.
In my opinion, the Bills should know what they’re getting out of Kelsay, Maybin, and Moats who started at inside linebacker in training camp. So to pick up a guy like Merriman, a player that a potential playoff team like the Ravens’ were targeting, was a great move, and I hope the Bills efforts and Merriman’s short-term efforts the next two months will pay off in the long-term.