The Buffalo Bills have claimed three-time Pro Bowl outside linebacker Shawne Merriman off of waivers from the San Diego Chargers. Released by San Diego on Tuesday after passing a physical, Merriman comes to the Bills after spending his first six NFL seasons with the Chargers. Early reports have since been confirmed by WGR 550's Joe Buscaglia, who got confirmation from Bills players Aaron Maybin and George Wilson. ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Merriman has five days to report to the Bills, which the sixth-year linebacker plans to do "for now."
Merriman is 26 years old, has had one fairly major incident off the field, and is only under contract through the end of the 2010 season, due $1.73 million for the remainder of this year. He also missed the 2008 season after PCL and LCL surgery, was hampered last season by a foot injury, and is only just recovered from a calf injury this season. He has just four sacks in the last three years after starting his NFL career with three straight Pro Bowl berths and 39.5 sacks in 42 games.
Bills GM Buddy Nix was the Chargers' Assistant GM in 2005, when San Diego made Merriman the No. 12 overall pick of that year's NFL Draft.
Merriman joins a Bills team that has transitioned away from the 3-4 defense in recent weeks, and whose go-to pass-rushing outside linebacker, rookie Arthur Moats, only sees the field for roughly a dozen plays per game, if that. It's unclear precisely how the Bills plan to use him; will he take Moats' reps, will he play more end in four-man looks, or will the Bills now transition back to the 3-4? Either way, things just got a touch more interesting over at One Bills Drive.
The Bills will need to free up a spot on the active roster to make room for Merriman once the move becomes official.