BUFFALO, N.Y. — Linebacker Shawne Merriman is calling it "Lights Out" on his career.
The three-time Pro Bowl selection and 2005 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year said on his website Tuesday night that he intends to file retirement papers.
"I retire today not because I don't feel I can go out there and still play the game at a very high level," Merriman wrote. "I am retiring because I want to retire on my own terms and leave while I know I can still physically play the game."
The team later confirmed Merriman's intentions in a text message and on its Twitter account.
The 28-year-old Merriman also posted a note on his Twitter account, which included a link to his website (shawnemerriman.com). "I have a very Big announcement," Merriman wrote. "Thanks everybody."
The decision comes a week before he was eligible to become a free agent, and after spending parts of the past three seasons in Buffalo. That included last year, when he was cut by the Bills in August only to be re-signed by Buffalo in October to help address the team's injury-riddled defense.
Merriman had expressed surprise he went unsigned for the first six weeks of last season. He returned to the Bills with a noticeably sun-burnt face, sheepishly explaining he had fallen asleep on the beach after working out at his home in Miami.
In signing a one-year $700,000 contract, Merriman finished last season with 17 tackles and one sack in 10 games, including one start. That was a marked drop-off for a player who became an instant NFL star after being selected by San Diego 12th overall in the 2005 draft.