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  • Writer's pictureTeam Stampede

Fresh Faces from Free Agency

Updated: Apr 12, 2020

By: Jason Malloy (@Jasonma32151414)

Josh Norman

(Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

The Bills added a veteran household name in cornerback Josh Norman.  Norman started his football career with…yes you guessed it the Carolina Panthers in Sean McDermott’s defense.  Norman had a few up and down seasons to begin his career.  However, in 2015 he was a Pro-Bowl, 1st team All-Pro.   He finished the season with 56 tackles, four interceptions, three forced fumbles, and 18 pass breakups and then signed a contract with the Washington Redskins for 5 years, $75 million which at the time the highest paid cornerback in the league. Normally this is where I would get into the stats, but the stats don’t favor the Bills new corner.   Here at Beware The Stampede we like to consider ourselves optimists and believers of the process. Norman was signed by the Bills on a 1 year $6 million (worth up to $8 million) contract on a prove it deal.

During the 2019 season Norman was not playing in a secondary with any semblance of being the quality player he once was.  Yes, they were the 18th ranked pass defense and that was mainly being blown out in most games and teams were running ball in the second half. Norman no longer a corner that travels with the #1 WR on the opposing side, which isn’t an issue as the Bills to be concerned with.  Since we have one of if not the top corner in the league in Tre White.  I feel Norman can turn in a very solid 2020 campaign, as long as he is tasked with playing mostly zone coverage as he will have trouble keeping up on press man to man coverage as he’s lost a step with age. By no means am I saying this signing will be a home run but Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane have built enough trust with us to have an optimistic view on Norman.

Mario Addison

(Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

He’s one of my favorite free agent signings thus far and I’d been calling for it for months. Mario Addison comes over from……..right again, the Carolina Panthers. To use the word consistent would be an understatement when referring to Addison. Addison is a great veteran locker room presence who has consistently put pressure on opposing QB’s over the last 4 years. Over those last 4 years Addison has amassed 39 sacks and 38 TFL (tackles for a loss), with no less then 9 sacks in a season.  The TFL just go to show that Addison is not only a great pass rusher but also can contain the run as well.  I love and will miss Shaq Lawson like most members of the Mafia, but Addison is an immediate upgrade from Shaq.  His consistent sack numbers along with the TFL through his 30s go to show the Bills found the perfect solution to any existing pass rushing concern.

Quinton Jefferson

(Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

The Bills signed DT/DE Quinton Jefferson to a 2-year, $13.5 million contract. The contract is exactly what it sounds like, built for a hybrid player who can line up inside or outside and has upside potential.  Jefferson has never amassed more than 3.5 sacks or 5 TFL in a season however last year he only was on the field for 55% of the plays on defense for the Seahawks, so it's not crazy to think if Jefferson is on the field for maybe 60-70% of plays that you could see those numbers double. Jefferson is the exact kind of guy that Coach McDermott and Brandon Beane have shown they want in Buffalo.   A model player who’s a team player and not a “Me” but a “We” guy that can line up at multiple positions.  I like this signing a lot for the Bills because this coaching staff has shown they can get the most out of players and can help the reach their maximum potential. 

A.J. Klein

(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Next up, former Panthers linebacker A.J. Klein……. yes another former Panther, however this was a much needed signing.  After beloved Bills linebacker Lorenzo Alexander retired this past offseason the Bills had a glaring hole at SAM linebacker, Klein can help to fill that void when the Bills are in base defense which I would only expect to be about 20-25% of any given game.  Most people would think that Klein receiving a 3-year $18 million contract isn’t justified by a player we only need on 20-25% of defensive plays.  But Klein has shown an ability to penetrate the backfield on pass rushing downs and in short distance running situations.  But, its actually quite ironic because it appears the Bills have replaced Zo with a younger version of himself.  While Klein won’t fill the leadership void left by Zo, Bills Mafia should be very pleased with this signing.  Klein is more than capable filling in the performance part of the hole left by Zo.

E.J. Gaines

(Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

He’s Backkk! Yes, the Bills brought back frequent flyer E.J. Gaines.  Gaines spent the 2019 season on the sideline due to an injury suffered last year in training camp with the Bills.  Before Gaines injury in 2017 he was part of the one of the better CB tandems that year with stud rookie Tre White.  Say a prayer and let’s hope he stays health because when healthy Gaines is a solid CB2. Gaines would still have an opportunity to compete to start but, that is position with growing depth.  I would expect Tre White and Gaines to rekindle the production and chemistry from their 2017 season when Gaines is on the field. The signing of Gaines and Norman go to show that Sean McDermott and Brandon Believe practice what they preach … wanting to find the best 11 to be on the field every play and stiff competition at every position.

Vernon Butler

(Gerald McCoy/Getty Images)

The last signing I’m going to talk about is another one that makes me very excited!  The Bills signed DT Vernon Butler to a 2-year $15 million deal. Butler comes over from…..(at this point it's not even funny anymore) the Carolina Panthers and was drafted 30th overall in 2016 which was McDermott’s last season as DC with the Panthers.  Butler had a slow start to his career but, in 2019 had a career high 6 sacks and 7 TFL.  The best part was Butler only played 40% of the Panthers snaps on defense.  I think we’re seeing the replacement for Jordan Philips here, a big strong DT who can rush the passer and clog up running lanes.  I expect Butler to see the field for 50-60% snaps this year and have between 7-9 sacks and 10-12 TFL IMO.   Brandon Beane went out and signed a cheaper Jordan Philips, which I’m fine with.  Yes, I was also in the camp of fans hoping to see fan favorite Philips return but, fans shouldn’t be upset with the replacement of Vernon Butler.   He’s a young talented player who hasn’t hit his ceiling yet, and we know if there is any coach who can get him there Coach McDermott can.

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