When a new coaching staff walks in the door at One Bills Drive a new course is charted for the franchise. Buffalo’s staff made the decision to trim two veteran defensive players from the roster Monday. The Bills released LB Nick Barnett and SS George Wilson.
“Moves like the ones we’ve made today are never easy, but we have to do what’s best for our team and keep moving forward,” said Bills GM Buddy Nix. “We’ve got some good young players on our roster who we feel are ready to take the next step and they will now have the opportunity to do so. We thank both Nick and George for everything they’ve given the Bills organization and wish them nothing but the best for the future.”
Barnett was the team’s leading tackler for each of the past two seasons. Signed as a free agent prior to the 2011 season he played inside linebacker in Buffalo’s 3-4 system his first season before playing on the weak side in the 4-3 system this past year.
The veteran linebacker made use of his Twitter account to thank the fans and the organization for his time in Buffalo.
“Thanks to all the great Fans and friends I have met in Western New York. It was truly a pleasure being apart of that organization and culture. Very unfortunate we didn't get the Bills to the playoffs but I know you guys will have many successful years ahead of you. Thanks for all your support. Sad to leave but like they say when one door closes more open up. All in God’s hands.”
Barnett’s subtraction makes a thin position even thinner for Buffalo as GM Buddy Nix has targeted the linebacker position as one that needs to be addressed this offseason.
“When you’re looking at linebackers, I think it’s changed now,” said Nix. “You want a guy who can run and cover and can match up against a slot or a tight end. See if that guy has got enough mobility in space to cover.”
Buffalo also parted ways with George Wilson. A defensive co-captain last season Wilson was second on the team in tackles behind Barnett with 98. Wilson was an inspiring story as he carved out an NFL career with the Bills by switching from wide receiver to safety. After toiling in a major special teams role, Wilson finally earned the starting strong safety job in 2008, a position he held for the next five seasons.
Wilson began to split time this season with the up and coming Da’Norris Searcy, who will be entering his third NFL season in 2013 and appears ready to assume a full time starting role.
The receiver turned safety was also an admired leader of charitable causes off the field and was named the Buffalo Bills Walter Payton Man of the Year in both 2009 and 2011.
Barnett and Wilson were both entering the final year of their respective contracts that they signed with Buffalo prior to the 2011 season.