ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — It's lights out for Shawne Merriman in Buffalo after the Bills cut the one-time star pass rusher Monday.
General manager Buddy Nix said the decision was based in part on the potential the Bills saw in two younger players who had been competing with Merriman for the fourth defensive end spot.
"We think we've been patient, but it comes to a point where we felt like we needed to move on and look down the road," Nix said shortly before the Bills returned to practice from a two-day break. "We need to look past this week. We need to look further down the road."
Though Nix wouldn't say which two players were competing for the roster spot left open by Merriman's release, the Bills' latest depth chart had Robert Eddins move up into the backup position behind Mario Williams.
Kyle Moore, a third-year player signed off Detroit's practice squad last November, has also looked impressive through the first month of training camp.
Nix said Merriman's health wasn't an issue and added he made the move now to provide the player a better chance to sign with another team.
The move does allow the Bills (No. 19 in the AP Pro32) to save a portion of the $4 million salary Merriman was scheduled to make in the final year of his contract.
Merriman's release was regarded as a mild surprise for a former three-time Pro Bowl selection, who described himself as being in his best shape in years after having season-ending surgery in November to repair a partially torn right Achilles tendon. It's an injury that had nagged him for much of the previous two seasons.
The Bills had kept their faith in Merriman, believing the 28-year-old had an opportunity to play a key backup role on a defensive line that was revamped in free agency this offseason with an eye on pressuring quarterbacks.
Buffalo signed Williams to a six-year, $100 million contract, and then landed pass-rushing defensive end Mark Anderson.
Merriman had spent much of training camp backing up both Williams and Anderson.
Merriman posted a note on his Twitter account shortly after being released, thanking the team, coaches, his teammates and fans for his time in Buffalo.
Though Merriman missed a few practices nursing a twisted ankle and sore hamstring, the Bills gave no indication his job was in jeopardy.