A former first-round selection (12th overall) in 2005 out of the University of Maryland, Merriam spent his first six seasons with the San Diego Chargers.
In seven seasons, Merriam, 28, has registered a total of 240 tackles, 44.5 sacks, eight forced fumbles and one interception with the Chargers (2005-10) and Bills (2010-11).
However, 187 of those tackles, 39.5 of those sacks and all eight of those forced fumbles were made during his first three seasons, when he was considered hands down one of the best outside linebackers in the league.
During those three years, he also became a three-time All-Pro linebacker, a three-time Pro Bowler, the 2006 NFL sacks leader, as well as the 2005 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
And then it was as if someone turned the lights out.
He has become injury-prone since then, missing a minimum of 11 games in three of the last four seasons.
In other words, his free fall began right when he got popped for steroids.
That didn’t stop Buddy Nix and the Bills from handing Merriam a two-year, $10.5 million deal on New Year’s Day 2011. The contract also contained $5 million guaranteed, which included $3 million of his 2012 salary. It was like taking candy from a baby.
“The contract was one of the worst given out by any team over the last few years because Merriman was not going to be a hot commodity as a free agent,” NFL.com Around The League Editor Gregg Rosenthal writes. ”Most NFL observers doubted he could ever regain his form or remain healthy.”
Merriman missed practice recently with a tight hamstring, but he insisted that he was fine and said he expected to come back with a huge year this upcoming season. It’s safe to say that won’t be happening, at least not in Buffalo.
He’ll have a chance to compete for a team in training camp, but the odds of this 28-year-old injury-prone outside linebacker making a final 53-man roster in September aren’t necessarily in his favor.
However, Nate Davis of the USA Today notices a potential destination within the division.
“The New York Jets often run the 3-4, need pass rush help and have shown willingness to roll the dice on reclamation projects in the past. Baltimore and Dallas seem less likely landing spots.”
Verse of This Piece: “My son, keep your father’s commands, and don’t forget your mother’s teaching. Keep their words in mind forever as though you had them tied around your neck.”—Proverbs 6:20-21
Michael Gartman is a College Football and NFL Senior Writer, the AFC South and NFC West Lead Writer and the Founder, CEO of GridironGrit.com. He also writes for RantPolitical.com, where he reports on topics across all sides of the political spectrum and analyzes important issues in the liberty movement. Follow @_MichaelGartman, @RantPolitical and @GridironGrit on Twitter!