Bills claim Shawne Merriman

Why did Buffalo pick up “Lights Out”?

The Buffalo Bills have claimed former San Diego Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman off waivers on Wednesday afternoon.  The three-time former Pro Bowl outside linebacker was released by San Diego on Tuesday after passing a physical.

Merriman has five days to report to the Bills, and early indications are that he indeed plans to report to Buffalo.  If, however, Merriman does not report, he will then be placed on the Reserve/Left Squad List making him ineligible to play for the rest of the season.

Nicknamed “Lights Out” because of his nasty and bone-crunching hits, Merriman had 39 1/2 sacks in 42 games in his first five seasons in the NFL.  But due to a handful of injuries over the past few seasons, Merriman had just four sacks in the past three seasons in San Diego.  He missed the 2008 season after undergoing knee surgery to repair his PCL and LCL ligaments.  Despite playing in 14 games a year ago, Merriman was slowed by a foot injury and this season he’s appeared in just three games dealing with a calf injury totaling five tackles and zero sacks.

In his rookie season in 2005, Merriman was named the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year.  In 2006, Merriman was suspended four games for testing positive for steroids, but despite missing four games he still recorded a career-high 17 sacks in 12 games.

He also was involved in an off-the-field incident just prior to the 2009 season that resulted in his arrest after reality television personality Tila Tequila accused Merriman of assault and false imprisonment at his home in San Diego.  No charges were filed and the two were to settle their lawsuits.

Merriman is under contract for the remainder of the 2010 season  and is due $1.73 million.  There is a bit of history involving Merriman and Bills GM Buddy Nix.  Nix was the Chargers’ Assistant GM in 2005 when San Diego selected Merriman with the 12th overall pick in that year’s draft.

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