After the Bills claimed linebacker Shawne Merriman on waivers, Merriman suffered an injury during his first practice with the team, and he never played in a game for the Bills before landing on injured reserve for the second time this season. Most assumed he’d become an unrestricted free agent in 2011 and leave Buffalo in his rear-view mirror.
On Friday, Merriman posted a new entry on his Twitter page that has Bills fans buzzing about the possibility that Merriman will be staying.
“Since I said #2011 is about accomplishing its also about proving and if your a #Bills fan I have some exciting news coming!!!” Merriman writes.
The obvious inference is that Merriman will be signing a new contract with the team, which would get him paid now in lieu of having to wait for the 2011 league year to commence and the free-agency period to begin. With the labor situation unsettled, Merriman may not become a free agent until July, August, September, or even later.
It also would mean that Merriman’s agent has explored the potential market for Merriman’s services and decided to accept whatever offer the Bills are willing to make. (Technically, it’s tampering for other teams to talk about what they’d pay, hypothetically and for example, a pass-rushing linebacker who has been riddled with injuries and ineffective play for the past several years. But it happens all the time.)
So even though Merriman presumably had no interest in staying with the Bills and even less interest in signing a contract without first becoming an unrestricted free agent, he may be realizing that, under the unique circumstances presented by the 2011 league year, it’s in his best interests to re-up with the Bills, possibly on a short-term deal that gives him a chunk of money now and the rest of it when the 2011 regular season begins.
Whenever that may be.