Amazingly, Merriman’s contract appears to get worse for the Bills.
According to a January article by Tim Graham (formerly of ESPN.com), Merriman is guaranteed another $3 million in 2012. We’ve seen it written that the Bills had some injury protection for that money, but that no longer appears to be true.
Graham wrote that Merriman’s 2012 money was guaranteed the moment he was cleared to practice this year. In essence, his new Achilles injury is viewed as different problem than his old Achilles injury. So the Bills are on the hook for it.
Merriman is due $4 million in base salary in 2012 and a $1 million roster bonus next March. We can’t imagine the Bills will give him another chance, so they will basically have to pay him $3 million to go away.
Claiming and then signing Merriman never made any sense. I’ve heard from Bills fans that they had to take a roll of the dice to get some talent. That’s insane. The Bills have done so many things right in the Gailey/Nix era, but there is no defending the Merriman contract.
It was a terrible bet the moment the contract was signed. Merriman missed 30 games between 2008-2010, including 13 last year. He has 4 sacks since 2007. He was never going to make big money on the open market. Guaranteed base salaries are for star players; Merriman was not in that kind of bargaining position.
If the Bills wanted to take a risk on Merriman, they could have waited for him to be a free agent and given him something like a 1-year, $3 million contract. That’s more money than far more productive linebackers got after the lockout.
Instead, the Bills will wind up paying almost $10 million to Merriman for one sack. That apparently includes $3 million next year, when he may no longer even be in the NFL.