By Mark Gaughan
Shawne Merriman turned out the lights on his injury-plagued NFL career.
The Buffalo Bills defensive end, who was due to become an unrestricted free agent next week, announced his retirement from football.
Merriman spent most of the past 2 1/2 seasons in the Bills organization and managed one sack in 10 games last season. He had been released by the Bills in training camp but then re-signed with the team on Oct. 15. He averaged 20 snaps a game over the last 10 games.
Merriman did not figure in the Bills’ plans for next season.
Merriman goes down as a calculated, expensive and unsuccessful gamble by the Bills. He was paid $8.75 million since joining the team in November 2010. The Bills claimed him off waivers in the middle of the 2010 season, but he never made it on the field that season. He played only the first five games of the 2011 season before going on injured reserve.
Merriman wound up appearing in just 15 Bills games. He recorded two sacks and 26 tackles.
He released this statement on his website:
"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 are still play my 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 to me. I want to thank all 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 a part of the NFL and to have had the opportunity of a lifetime. I am excited to pursue my other career opportunities and look forward to what is on the horizon for me. I will continue to train with some of the guys not because of football, but because it's a part of my lifestyle."
Merriman recorded 39.5 sacks over his first three seasons in the NFL, from 2005 to 2007. But knee, calf and Achilles tendon injuries limited him to just 33 games and six sacks over the final five seasons of his career.