While this is the time to try new things, this one raised a few eyebrows because Umenyiora has never played in space before and because the last few years have seen him become an increasingly one-dimensional pass rusher who struggles to set the edge against the run. It’s an opinion that’s shared by many, including former Chargers and Bills linebacker Shawne Merriman.
D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution noticed that Merriman, who announced his retirement in March, sent out a tweet on Sunday letting the Falcons know that he’d reverse course on his decision to call it a career if the Falcons offered him a shot at that hybrid role while Umenyiora remained at defensive end. He also said he’d peg his earnings to his production.
Ledbetter doesn’t believe the Falcons would answer the phone if Merriman called and the fact that it has been more than half a decade since Merriman was a truly effective player backs up that read on the situation. You never know if you don’t ask, though.