By Tim Graham
The Buffalo Bills held on to Shawne Merriman through a pair of season-ending injuries, but now that he's playing, routinely generating praise from head coach Chan Gailey and presumably healthy enough to play, they've cut him.
The Bills announced this morning they've released Merriman less than two years after claiming him off waivers from the San Diego Chargers and paying him a few million dollars.
In Merriman's first workout with the Bills in November 2010, he hurt his Achilles and was placed on injured reserve.
The Bills nevertheless signed him to a two-year contract extension two months later. He played five games last season before having season-ending Achilles surgery.
Throughout the summer -- voluntary workouts, minicamp, training camp -- Merriman repeatedly spoke about how great he felt. Gailey often spoke about how great Merriman looks and expressed excitement over the production Merriman could deliver.
When talking about how terrific the Bills' defensive depth should be, Merriman's name usually was the first mentioned as a top backup to Mario Williams and Mark Anderson/Chris Kelsay.
Merriman had been relatively healthy all summer, too. He missed two practices, one for a rolled ankle and another with a tight hamstring. He played both preseason games.
Perhaps a harbinger of Merriman's status is that he played well into the third quarter in Friday night's exhibition with the Minnesota Vikings. He finished with one solo tackle. Merriman had two assists in the preseason opener versus the Washington Redskins.
Merriman was due to make a $4 million base salary this season and already had been paid a $1 million roster bonus. His base salary last season was $2.75 million.