I was happy when the news of Charger’s linebacker Shawne Merriman being placed on waivers rolled across the bottom of my television during a daily viewing of Sportscenter. It is probably the homer gene that has traces in my blood, but I get instantly excited when any high-profile player in any sport becomes available because of the thought of my team bringing him in. Obviously, I am let down a lot in baseball (Orioles) where free agent and trade rumors come and go faster than Ben Roethlisberger in a bathroom stall. In the NFL, though, the Ravens have done a pretty good job in acquiring the free agents they need.
Getting to point, Shawne Merriman landing in Baltimore is not only extremely likely but can be very beneficial to a team looking to make a playoff push. The reasons for both are as follows:
1 – Location
There is no need to rush to your nearest map for this one, it’s rather simple. Shawne Merriman was born in Washington, D.C., went to Frederick Douglass High School in Baltimore, and played his college ball at the University of Maryland. Playing for the Baltimore Ravens would bring him home to play in front of family and friends.
2 – Super Bowl or Bust
The 2010 season for the Ravens is simply Super Bowl or Bust. With key players aging on defense, Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, and offensive players nearing the end of the line, Derrick Mason, Matt Birk, and Todd Heap, the Ravens have this season to capture their second Lombardi Trophy in history. Shawne Merriman does not have a ring and is certainly hungry for one. Despite their recent loss to the Patriots, the Ravens are still one of the favorites in the AFC to make the Super Bowl, giving them another automatic edge on signing Merriman.
3 – The Defense
When you are a premier defensive player like Merriman was, you do not want to play on a defense that can’t hold their own. As a player like Merriman, the confidence that you have with Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs, and Haloti Ngata being right there with you, elevates your game to a new level. Merriman has never been a part of a top-of-the-line defense in his NFL career. The sheer thought of playing along side of two surefire Hall of Famer’s should be enticing enough.
4 – Three Time Pro-Bowler, One Time All-Pro
People seem to forget the stats Merriman put together during his first three seasons in the NFL. In 42 games, Merriman collected 39.5 sacks (leading the league in 2006), defended 17 passes, and had 146 tackles. He was the best pass rusher in the league at his young age. Now at the age of 26, Merriman has only four sacks since 2008 while finding himself either injured or suspended. Merriman tore his PCL and LCL in 2008, turning him from a valuable asset to a overpaid liability for the Chargers. The thought of what Merriman can do when healthy should entice the interests of the Ravens who are reportedly in love with the thought of Merriman and Suggs rushing from each end.
5 – The Wizard of Oz
As the Ravens’ general manager, Ozzie Newsome has made the team a powerhouse through his signings and mainly through his drafting of many low-round players that seem to always pan out. The potential value of Merriman is right down Newsome’s alley. If the opportunity arises, and it should, to sign the former-Charger to a small contract, Ozzie will pull the trigger. Newsome has declined to comment on Merriman as per the NFL rules.
Even though everything points towards the Ravens for Merriman, one factor could derail the plans – the San Francisco 49ers. It is being reported that the 49ers want Merriman so bad that they are considering claiming him off waivers, leaving them reliable for his $3.269 million contract. In an uncapped year, it is plausible, but not likely, that the 49ers will take the hit and make the decision for Merriman, giving them an added push in the divisional race.
If unclaimed, Merriman is said to have interest in the Dallas Cowboys (1-4) and the Miami Dolphins (2-3); but places the Baltimore Ravens on top of his list.