Buffalo Bills GM Buddy Nix has confirmed that the team has signed veteran outside linebacker Shawne Merriman to a two-year contract extension that runs through the close of the 2012 season.
ESPN reports that the contract guarantees Merriman $2.5 million in 2011, averages $5.25 million per year for the duration of the contract, and has playing time and performance escalators that could increase the value of the deal to as much as $9.25 million per season.
Merriman, who turns 27 in May, joined the Bills as a waiver claim in November, but was injured in his first practice with the Bills and has not yet played a down for them. He has had great trouble staying healthy over the past three seasons, with a myriad of injuries allowing him to participate in just 18 games and record four sacks in that time frame. In the three years prior to those issues, Merriman played in 42 games, recorded 39.5 sacks, and made three Pro Bowls.
With Merriman in the fold, the Bills have now made two fairly significant investments in outside linebackers since the 2010 regular season began. The Bills signed veteran Chris Kelsay to a lucrative four-year extension in September. As it appears now, they'll be penciled in as Buffalo's starting outside linebackers heading into 2011 training camp, with Arthur Moats providing quality depth with upside.