Today, the Buffalo Bills announced the release of veteran linebacker/defensive end Shawne Merriman after two seasons with the team. Merriman, known by his nickname of “Lights Out”, never performed up to expectations in Buffalo and battled numerous injuries, leading to his release today. The move was first announced by Jay Glazer, then later confirmed by the team.
The move comes as a surprise to some, but in retrospect the move makes sense. Merriman was a Buddy Nix project that was hit-or-miss, and it was a miss. He was lost in the shuffle on a team that signed two big name defensive ends this offseason. Merriman was on his way down the depth chart and his play during training camp and the first two preseason games were no help. He claimed that he had “gotten his burst back” that he had been known for in his first few years in the league, but his performance didn’t show that.
The Bills signed Merriman to a two-year, $10.5 million contract on New Year’s Day 2011, even though he had issues with injuries since 2007 (the year that a lot of people claim was his last year of relevance) He’s missed at least 11 games in three of the last four seasons, so the signing was risky at best.
The team hoped that he could recover from a career threatening achilles injury, but he was injured in his first practice with Buffalo. That was a sign of things to come, as Merriman only played in 5 games in 2011 before being put on injured reserve with lingering achilles injuries. Many times, it’s almost impossible for a player to come back from an achilles injury and be the same player that they were before, and in this case Merriman just couldn’t be “Lights Out” again.
One player that should be grateful that Merriman was released is DE prospect Kyle Moore, who now sees his chances of making the roster improve greatly. Moore has played well this offseason and had taken snaps with the 2nd team defense in Merriman’s place in the last few weeks.
Whether this is the end of “Lights Out” or not is questionable. But the future isn’t looking bright. As a fan of Merriman, I hoped that he could regain that killer instinct that made him a three time pro-bowler in San Diego.
Unfortunately, if he DOES regain that killer instinct, it won’t be in the friendly confines of Ralph Wilson Stadium.
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