Why Merriman would thrive in Washington

Could Merriman make a home in the Nation’s Capital?

Washington may emerge as a match for Merriman, he would fit right in with the ‘Skins 3-4 system.  Familarity, short adjustment period, and this could open up things for Orakpo on the outside.  Clearly, both parties benefit.  A win-win situation.  A scenario Shanahan is definitely intrigued by, a low-risk, high-reward proposition.  Merriman can no longer excel as the “main man”, but can excel as a “supporting piece”, where in Washington, it would be his clear-cut role.

Special contribution from Redskins Gab columnist: Rajan Nanavati

The usual drill of bandying about the Redskins as a team interested in any available big name free agent is well beyond rote at this point. Even after Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan spent their first off-season eschewing big name players in favor of castoffs and misfits from other teams, the Redskins are almost always mentioned as a potential landing spot for any player with a ” big name,” especially if that player has a history of under-producing for the last few seasons.

So it comes as no surprise that when ESPN’s John Clayton was reporting on the Shawne Merriman situation/impending release this morning, which team appeared at the top of his short list of potential new destinations for Merriman?

That’s right: the Redskins.

And you know what? I’m ok with that. Because, honestly, I think the Redskins should sign him.

For those of you unaware of the situation, the Chargers have placed Merriman on the “Reserve – Injured” list, which means that San Diego must release Merriman once he’s healthy, thus allowing him to sign with any team he chooses. And if the Redskins were smart, they should be the first ones in line to acquire his newly available services.

On the business side of things, this is a classical low-risk, high-reward situation.

For all his accolades and notoriety, Merriman hasn’t played for the better part of the last two seasons. Being a guy coming off knee and foot injuries, especially one whose game is predicated on his speed and burst, Merriman isn’t exactly holding a lot of leverage in negotiations, where he can take whoever signs him to the cleaners (unless Vinny Cerrato was signing off on the deal).

The Redskins have the ability to sign him to some kind of one-year, incentive-laden deal, with the understanding of a bigger deal in the future if everything works out well.

So, if Merriman’s injuries have taken away from his game to the point where he’s nowhere near the player he was during his prime with the Chargers, the Redskins aren’t stuck with his rotting contract. If Merriman is finally healthy, the Redskins will be getting a player with all the incentive in the world, since he’ll be playing for his next (and likely final) big contract.

On the field, the plan is simple. Start Merriman out on obvious passing situations, playing him as a pass rushing specialist while he’s still fully recovering from his injuries and getting in game shape. Just think about the possibility of having Brian Orakpo and Merriman rushing the quarterback on obvious passing downs. (Hold on just a minute, I have to wipe some drool off my mouth).

If Merriman shows signs of re-emerging as the player he was just a few seasons ago, the Redskins would arguably have the best tandem of pass rushers in the NFL. Plus, adding Merriman would make Andre Carter (and his bloated salary) expendable (he’s not a fit in the 3-4, never has been), especially considering the Redskins already have multi-faceted guys like Chris Wilson and Lorenzo Alexander in the outside linebacker rotation.

And why would Merriman come to Washington? To start off with, he’s a DC native (he was born in the District), and reportedly grew up as a Redskins fan. Merriman was a big LaVar Arrington fan as well, with the latter eventually becoming a mentor to Merriman while Merriman played locally at the University of Maryland.

To put it simply: he’s a local kid, and he’ll have the chance not only to resurrect, but to finish out his career at home.

Overall, the bottom line with signing Merriman boils down to two things:

1. Jim Haslett installed a 3-4 defense in Washington with primary goals of attacking the opposing quarterback and forcing turnovers. Merriman enhances the Redskins ability to do both.

2. With the way this team is built, the future is now. If the Redskins can get a guy who is entering the twilight of his career but has a couple of good seasons left in him (and can be obtained at a somewhat reasonable price), they have to pull the trigger.

Just like the old days, as soon as Merriman is healthy and thus eligible to sign with another team (Adam Schefter is reporting that this could be as soon as “a couple weeks“), it’s time to fire up Redskins One to pay him a visit, and make sure he doesn’t get off that plane without his signature on the dotted line.

The Redskins just happen to go on their bye two weeks after their match-up with the Colts this Sunday, after which they’ll have played exactly eight games. Merriman would be an absolutely perfect addition for the second half of the season, giving him ample time this season to make the lives of opposing quarterbacks a living hell.

I love it when a plan comes together.

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