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Bills lock up Merriman

The Buffalo Bills have pulled a New Year's surprise by agreeing to a new contract with linebacker Shawne Merriman, the team confirmed.

Merriman, claimed by the Bills off waivers from San Diego on Nov. 2, has been out ever since he joined the Bills due to an Achilles tendon injury. The Bills took on $1.7 million in salary by claiming Merriman. His contract was to run out after this season. But now he is in the fold for two more years in a deal that is believed to be worth a total of $10.5 million.

Merriman has been rehabilitating from his injury the past nine weeks, since joining the Bills. His Achilles tendon has bothered him on and off for more than a year. The Bills believe he will make a full recovery, and he is not scheduled to have any medical procedures on his Achilles.

He went on the injured reserve list on Nov. 27.

Bills General Manager Buddy Nix drafted Merriman in the first round in 2005, and Merriman made the Pro Bowl each of his first three seasons.

Re-signing Merriman represents a gamble for the Bills, given the fact he has been injured most of the past three seasons. But the Bills are confident that if he regains his health he will return to being a very productive player.

“We believe he should make a full recovery and be healthy,” Nix said. “There’s risk involved in anything. Drafting any of these 20-year-olds has risks involved.”

---Mark Gaughan

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