At one point in his career, linebacker Shawne Merriman seemed destined to become the highest-paid defensive player in league history.
It hasn’t happened yet, and it likely never will.
ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reports that Merriman’s new two-year deal with the Bills averages $5.25 million per year. Merriman also will receive $2.5 million guaranteed in 2011; it’s not yet known whether that money comes in the form of a signing bonus, a roster bonus, guaranteed base salary, or some combination of the three. (It’s also not known whether the money is guaranteed for skill only, for injury only, or for both.)
Per Mortensen, incentives based on playing time and performance could push the value to an average of $9.25 million per year. Mort points out that the “more reasonable sum” is $8.75 million per year.
Once the contract becomes available, we’ll break it down with all relevant details regarding bonuses and incentive triggers.
The obvious question is, given the value of the deal, why didn’t Merriman wait for a shot at the open market? As we pointed out earlier today, Merriman’s agent undoubtedly made enough off-the-record calls to get a feel for the player’s value as a free agent. The fact that he didn’t wait suggests that the Bills made the best offer.