The Three Lions boss had said that the Manchester United forward was the 'obvious choice' for the leading role after announcing him as his new skipper on Wednesday.
But Merson feels Rooney is already under huge pressure as England's most reputable player.
Instead, the former Arsenal midfielder would have handed the armband to Chelsea defender Gary Cahill.
“Wayne Rooney is our main man. There’s enough pressure on him every week to perform well for England so to throw this on top of him as well… I know it’s a great honour but it’s just more pressure,” Merson told Sky Sports News.
“You should let Wayne Rooney go out and play. If Wayne Rooney plays, we have every chance.
“Gary Cahill would have been a good choice instead. I like defenders as captains.”
|Team||Pos||Effective Clearances||Aerial Duels Won||Apps||Mins|
As Opta stats show, no Chelsea player has made more clearances or won more aerial duels than 28-year-old Cahill so far this Premier League season.
Next up for the Blues is a trip to Everton this weekend, where Jose Mourinho's side will look to make it three league wins out of three.
For England, meanwhile, Norway await at Wembley Stadium for a friendly, before the Three Lions travel to Switzerland for their opening Euro 2016 qualifier.