Merriman and Moss play the Waivers Waiting Game

Former NFL standouts WR Randy Moss and LB Shawne Merriman are waiting to see if any NFL teams will claim them off waivers

Let’s take a look back to 2007… WR Randy Moss, age 30 at the time, had escaped the NFL’s version of purgatory, the Oakland Raiders, to be reborn with the almost perfect New England Patriots (18-1).  Moss produced numbers 98 catches for 1493 yards, an amazing 15.2 ypc, and an NFL-record 23 touchdown catches as a team he played on reached the Super Bowl for the first time.

In getting to the Super Bowl, where New England would loss to the New York Giants in one of the NFL’s biggest upsets, Moss and Patriots beat the San Diego Chargers 21-12 in a long-forgotten AFC Championship game.  However on the Chargers’ sidelines there also was an equally spectacular talent who would be joining Moss in Hawaii at the 2008 Pro Bowl.  His name was LB Shawne Merriman and much like Moss, he was an explosive freak of a player who seemed destined to be with his team for a long time.  Merriman had easily won the 2005 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and had produced double-digit sacks in his first three years in the league.  He even led the NFL with 17 sacks in 2006 and 2007 was considered a “down” year after the former first rounder out of Maryland only produced 12.5 sacks while fighting through constant double-teams.

But once again Moss and Merriman are linked as both former Pro Bowl players can be claimed today off NFL waivers by 4 PM EST today for the pro-rated price of their 2010 contracts – Moss has $3.88M left and Merriman’s amount is about $1.7M.  So how did these one-time surefire Pro Bowl players end up available in the “crazy” waiver process? Which is a system where NFL teams starting with the team with the worst record as of the end of Week 8 (Buffalo Bills) to the top team (New England Patriots) will go one-by-one while deciding whether to “claim” the discarded pair. 

Merriman’s situation is a lot easier to dissect than Moss’, so we will start there.  The former beastly outside pass rushing linebacker just has not been the same since a devastating 2008 knee injury, where he tore his ACL.  From 2005-2007, Merriman had posted 187 tackles and 39.5 quarterback sacks and that was even despite being suspended for the first four games of the 2006 season for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy – his violation also has caused whispers too that he is the league’s version of Mark McGwire.

Since the knee injury, Merriman has been limited to just 18 games over the last two seasons where he has only produced just 44 tackles and four quarterback sacks.  In 2010, the Chargers – who surprisingly tendered and signed him to a 1-year $3.269M deal – seemed to have had enough.  They placed Merriman on injured reserve with an Achilles injury and form of I/R that their former great was placed on allowed his team to waive him once he passed a physical, which he did on November 2nd.

As for Moss, after only 4 games back in his old Vikings’ No. 84 jersey, Minnesota head coach Brad Childress told him to take a walk.  It was the second time this season that an NFL team had given up on the volatile future Hall of Famer.  Earlier the Patriots had shipped the sometimes-motivated receiver to the Vikings in exchange for a 2011 third-round pick.  At the time, the Patriots seemed like they were crazy to basically giveaway a player that had produced numbers of 259 catches for 4,904 yards and 50 touchdowns in 51 games, while going with players like Danny Woodhead, Julian Edelman, and Wes Welker.  However in the “Team First” NFL, it is not surprising that the Patriots have been successful without Moss as they have won four straight games while getting contributions from everywhere. 

The receiver-needy Vikings then soon found out that the grass was not so green with Moss – career numbers: 948 catches for 14778 yards, 15.6 ypc, and 153 TDs — on their side either.  The former 7-time Pro Bowler produced 13 passes for 174 yards and two touchdowns in his second stint with the Viking.  But he also was fined $25,000 dollars for not cooperating with the media, cussed out a team meal provider, did his usual non-decoy lazy routes, gave a rambling “I Love the Patriots” diatribe press conference after Vikings lost to New England, and stayed in Boston rather than return back to Minnesota with the team.  “This decision was made based on what we thought was in the best interests of the Minnesota Vikings, both in the short and long term,” said Childress. “We wish Randy the best as he moves forward in his career.”

So now we have to wait and see if any NFL team is willing to take a flier on this tarnished pair, who at one-time were considered true difference makers in the league.  My guess is some will claim at least one of the pair, most likely Moss – 2010 numbers of 22 catches for 313 yards and 5 TDs in 7 games.  It is rumored that the St. Louis Rams, Seattle Seahawks, Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Titans (replacement for Britt – hamstring), Indianapolis Colts, and if you can believe it… the New England Patriots are interested in Moss.  While Merriman, who may not draw as many suitors due to injuries, maybe pursued by the New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots, and Tennessee Titans.

If neither player is claimed by 4 PM EST, then they will be an unrestricted free agent, who is available to sign with any team for the league minimum.

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

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