As noted, WWE has signed former NFL star Shawne Merriman to a deal. The idea is to bring him up similar to how WCW brought up Steve “Mongo” McMichael.
They’re looking at training Merriman as an announcer, put him on TV while he’s also training to be a wrestler, and then transition into being a wrestler when he’s good enough.
There is a renewed interest within WWE when it comes to signing NFL players who are still young but their football careers are over.
(Source: Wrestling Observer Newsletter)