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Shawne Merriman retires

(Sports Network) - Former Buffalo Bills defensive end Shawne Merriman has announced his retirement on his personal website.

Merriman released the following statement Tuesday on shawnemerriman.com:

"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 and 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 was selected 12th overall by the San Diego Chargers in the 2005 NFL Draft. He earned NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors in his first season after recording 57 tackles and 10 sacks.

The Maryland product racked up 39 1/2 sacks over his first three years in the NFL. He was hampered by injuries the following three seasons, and the Buffalo Bills claimed him off waivers from the Chargers in the middle of the 2010 season.

Merriman's career with the Bills was also plagued by injuries. He was released by the club prior to the 2012 season but Buffalo brought him back in October. Merriman had 17 tackles and one sack in 10 games last season.

In 75 career games with San Diego and Buffalo, Merriman recorded 257 tackles, 45 1/2 sacks and one interception.

03/05 18:47:50 ET