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Saturday, November 27, 2010
Shawne Merriman won't play for Buffalo

By Tim Graham

The Shawne Merriman experiment in Buffalo can officially be ruled a failure.

Shawne Merriman
Shawne Merriman limped off the field with a leg injury shortly after opening his first practice with Buffalo.
The Bills couldn't make the 26-year-old outside linebacker their reclamation project. They placed him on injured reserve Saturday along with linebacker Keith Ellison.

The move is a lose-lose for the Bills and Merriman. The club wasted roughly $1.7 million in salary on a player who didn't play a down. Merriman, meanwhile, cemented his reputation as injury-prone and didn't generate any precious game film needed to show the rest of the NFL what he could do to secure a nice contract next year.

Merriman injured his leg about 15 minutes into his first Bills practice. The San Diego Chargers waived him last month because he was damaged goods, battling knee and calf problems that kept him from regaining his All-Pro form.

Merriman was a Pro Bowler in each of his first three NFL seasons, accumulating 39.5 sacks. He recorded only four sacks since the end of the 2007 season.

I asked Bills coach Chan Gailey on Wednesday at what point would it become counterproductive to put Merriman on the field, when the most he could play would be five games and the Bills seem to be gaining momentum with players who definitely will be part of the organization's future.

"First of all, you've got to take into consideration if a guy is healthy enough," Gailey replied. "In his case, is the guy healthy enough to get on the field? Second of all, if you get good players you've got to try to use them. To be honest with you, I don't care when it is. You've got to use good players, and he's proven that he's been a good player in years past.

"So if it comes to that, if it gets down to the last couple games, I think it's better to know and to let him play and for us to know what he can do in our defense than it is not to know and always be in question."

The Bills might get a compensatory draft choice for their trouble, but the fact Merriman's season ended as it did doesn't bode well for the quality of the pick. The compensatory formula is closely guarded, but we do know a significant factor is how valuable the departing player's contract is. Playing time and postseason awards also are considerations, and not every player lost or signed is covered by the process.

Of course, the compensatory system could be altered under terms of the new collective bargaining agreement anyway.

Saturday's roster move had a positive local twist to it. One of the players summoned from the practice squad was undrafted rookie receiver Naaman Roosevelt, a Buffalo native who played for the University at Buffalo. Also promoted was linebacker Thomas Williams.