Shawne Merriman’s contract gets worse

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The Bills have paid linebacker Shawne Merriman $6.95 million over the last season and a half for one sack and nine tackles in five games.

Amazingly, Merriman’s contract appears to get worse for the Bills.

According to a January article by Tim Graham (formerly of, 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.

33 responses to “Shawne Merriman’s contract gets worse

  1. Just ask the fans of any team and chances are there has been at least a few bad contracts similar to this one they can tell you about.

    The Bills took a major flyer here and yeah, they gave him money based on his performance from back in the days when he was young and healthy.

    But every team has given out a bad deal in the past.
    It happens…

  2. I remember when there was a debate on whether to take this guy or DeMarcus Ware. Not quite Manning/Leaf territory, but it’s close.

  3. It certainly wasn’t a great contract. But the Bills have to overpay to get anybody worth mentioning to even consider Buffalo – they haven’t made the playoffs in over a decade and Buffalo isn’t exactly a thriving metropolis these days.

    I don’t think the money they gave Merriman prevented them from signing someone else – they’re way under the cap right now. If nothing else, maybe he can give some of the Bills youngsters some usable advice in the next 10 weeks.

    Here’s hoping Buddy doesn’t roll the dice on McNabb next year.

  4. How about Maybin having 3 sacks for the Jets and the whole Bills roster only having 4 so far?

  5. It looks bad now but Bills management knew their talent level was getting there and were hoping to hit the lottery.
    Looks dumb today but imagine what the Bills would be like right now if he would have performed like his talent could allow.

  6. Accuse Matthews based on nothing, fine.
    Point out that Matthews hasn’t failed a PED test, comment disappears.

  7. It wasn’t a total loss for us Bills fans.

    The only reason why Nick Barnett and Kirk Morrison signed with us is because Merriman was here.

    Not sure about Morrison yet, but Barnett has emerged as our best defender outside of (the now injured) Kyle Williams… HUGE upgrade over Paul Posluszny.

  8. maybin is basically untouched on those sacks. he is feeding off of the jets coverage personel and blitz schemes. replace maybin with , where is a just another fast football player.

  9. @pixelito says:
    Oct 26, 2011 12:07 PM
    It’s a good thing Bills fans have Hockey after the Jets beat them this weekend.
    And it shows just how smart you really are……The Bills play the Redskins this weekend you moron.

  10. That’s what happens when you abuse steroids. You get caught and suspended. Then you try to ween your body off them and it begins to break down (A-Rod, Kevin Brown, Manny Ramirez etc…)

  11. It’s unfortunate for the Bills, but in my opinion the move was by no means “insane”. Merriman was one of the best defensive players in the league for a meaningful amount of time. He missed so many games, as you point out, because he was dealing with significant injuries. Hindsight is 20/20, but could you have definitively said two years ago that he wouldn’t eventually come back from those injuries? He was just 25 at the time. There was no reason to believe he couldn’t make a comeback. Countless players have done so before him.

    The Bills were desperate for a pass rush, as were many teams in the league. At some point, teams in these situations need to take on some risk in their search for impact pass rushers. There isn’t what I would call a robust supply of players that have the talent to record 39.5 sacks over a 42 game stretch. The Bills took a chance on a guy that had that type of potential, but also came with some injury risk. The important thing to note is that they were compensated for that risk through a discounted rate. In other words, his contract would have been much more rich if he didn’t bring that injury risk along with him. In my opinion, anyone that thinks the contract is “insane” either doesn’t understand the concept of a risk/return tradeoff, and/or they don’t appreciate how talented Merriman is.

  12. The Bills might come away with more than it seems…
    If Merriman can come back after the surgery, which is a possibility(Ex. Fletcher) they will have another shot to get him on the field. Secondly, the affect he has had in helping Buddy Nix sign Nick Barnett and Kirk Morrison.
    I wouldn’t call it a total loss yet, he is still signed for one more year. Lets see how it pans out first.

  13. I thought the signing was an “OK” Gamble but i see this signing as more than hopeful production. He is one of the biggest names to be signed by Buffalo in years and seems to be a respected veteran by OTHER players. And that’s what Buffalo needs. Other Vets are more likely to come here when they see others vets getting big contracts. The Bills need to shake this cheap label and signing TO and Merriman show that. They fought with ATL and almost stole Clabo from them. He also helps the young talent on a barren OLB group with no idea how to play a 3-4 . Not saying this was a “great” signing but it makes sense for other reasons, the Sacks would be a bonus

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