At one time he was the most feared pass rusher in the NFL, but on Tuesday at age 28 Shawne Merriman chose to announce his retirement from pro football.
On his personal website Merriman issued the following statement:
After a lengthy discussion with my agent, family and team I have officially decided to put in my retirement papers today. My retirement from the game I love so much and from the game that has brought me so many opportunities on and off the field has been decided with great thought for my future on and off the field. I retire today not because I don't feel I can go out there and still play the game at a very high level, I am retiring because I want to retire on my own terms and leave while I know I can still physically play the game. I am stepping back to pursue other great opportunities that have been afforded me. I want to thank all of my fans around the country. I want to thank the San Diego Chargers and the Buffalo Bills for their support during my time at each club.
I feel truly blessed to have been part of the NFL and to have had the opportunity of a lifetime. I'm excited to pursue my other opportunities and look forward to what's on the horizon for me.
Merriman's career arc was much like a supernova. There was a tremendous explosion of production in his first three NFL seasons after he was made a first round pick of the Chargers in 2005. Merriman logged 39.5 sacks in his first three seasons including a career-high 17 in 2006. He was named to three Pro Bowls.
But knee and Achilles injuries struck soon after robbing Merriman of his trademark burst off the line. The pass rusher fought through the next five seasons, but never reached his previous production level. He logged just six sacks in his last four NFL seasons.
Finally released by the Chargers in 2010, the Bills picked him up off waivers in the hope that he could reclaim his previous form.
Unfortunately Merriman was never the terrorizing pass rushing force they hoped he would be. After a lost final half of the 2010 season with Buffalo where he wound up on injured reserve, Merriman appeared in just five games in 2011 before undergoing Achilles surgery.
Determined to come back healthier than ever Merriman pushed his rehab regimen to the limit, but the veteran was released by the club in training camp. He was re-signed by the Bills in mid-October last season and appeared in 10 games as a rotational defensive end. He posted 17 tackles and a sack in his final NFL season.
Even during the 2012 campaign when Merriman was given a second chance by the Bills it seemed as though he had come to grips with the fact that he wasn't the same player that took the league by storm at the start of his career.
Merriman was set to become an unrestricted free agent next Tuesday and was not expected to be re-signed by the Bills. With his retirement the former linebacker and defensive end effectively took himself off the market.