The Bills added several free agents to their roster this offseason. Many of these new players will help provide competition at certain positions , as well as depth at areas that need it - especially on the defensive side of the ball. Personnel losses from the 2019 season include defensive Shaq Lawson and defensive tackle Jordan Phillips and Lorenzo Alexander, who retired in 2019. There are some intriguing additions that will fill those empty holes and could play a big role this season. Here my list of the free agents who will have a big impact in 2020.
DE Mario Addison
Mario Addison comes to Buffalo by way of the Carolina Panthers. Yes, Addison played under general manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott when they were in Carolina. The fact that Addison already knows the defense is one reason why he will have a big impact in Buffalo. The defensive end joins a position group that could use depth, and a starter opposite Jerry Hughes. His sack production, ranking 11th in the league with 39 sacks since 2016, is what the Bills need out of this strong defensive end.
Addison is entering his 10th season in the NFL but says at age 32, he feels in his best shape yet. Addison is a seasoned vet who can help lead younger defensive linemen like Ed Oliver and Darryl Johnson. McDermott has already said Addison is acting like a leader during Zoom meetings, something that's not easy to do as a new player meeting his team for the first time in a virtual setting. Pair Addison's skill set on the field with his ability to lead in the locker room, you have a player that is bound to make the team better in 2020.
LB A.J. Klein
Just like Addison, linebacker A.J. Klein made a pit stop with the Panthers for four years. During his time in Carolina, Klein crossed paths with Beane and McDermott before moving on to play with the Saints. His familiarity with the system and coaches should provide a smooth transition into the Buffalo defense. Klein will also be a key player in the linebacker room due to the hole left by Lorenzo Alexander's retirement. While the former Panther may not be able to replicate everything Alexander did, one impact he brings is the ability to be versatile. Klein can play all three positions, which is valuable in defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier's defense.
Not only does Klein bring versatility to the defense, he also brings it to special teams. This may not be a key role for him as many of his snaps will be spent on defense, but the ability to play on special teams has given him the perfect mindset that fits with the Bills. In 2018 and 2019, Klein registered 255 special teams snaps. The attitude to be willing to do it all will make a positive impression on the locker room, especially in a young room of linebackers including Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano. Similar to Addison, Klein will have a large impact on and off the field.
DL Quinton Jefferson
Unlike Addison and Klein, Quinton Jefferson hasn't played for the Carolina Panthers. Even though he doesn't have ties to McDermott and his system, he will still play an important role on the team. The Bills went after Jefferson because of his versatility. You can call him a defensive end or tackle, he'll play both positions in Buffalo. He will have an impact on this team because Frazier will be able to move him around the line according to his strengths.
Jefferson's pressure on the quarterback will be important regardless of what position he plays. According to Next Gen Stats, Jefferson led the Seahawks in quarterback pressure among interior defensive linemen the last two seasons with a pressure rate of 8.5% in 2018 and 9.6% in 2019. Per PFF, Jefferson had 39 pressures on the quarterback in 401 pass rush snaps last season. This defense values players who play multiple positions and get to the quarterback. Jefferson can excel at both.
DT Vernon Butler
Vernon Butler was drafted in the first round by the Carolina Panthers in 2016. You know what that means--Butler is familiar with Beane and McDermott. Although Butler spent just one season with the two, he did spend four seasons with Buffalo's new defensive line coach Eric Washington.
Butler is coming off of his best season yet, recording six sacks, three forced fumbles, seven tackles for loss and eight quarterback hits. The young defensive tackle is progressing in the right direction as he reunites with former coaches. Butler will have an impact on this team due to his ability to provide depth in a defense he understands. The defensive tackle is also going back to a 4-3 scheme, which is something he played in during his first three seasons in the league.
Taiwan Jones may be a familiar name to Bills fans. The former Bill played for Buffalo from 2017 to 2018. Jones wasn't the healthiest during that time but played an important role on special teams. In two seasons, he logged 220 snaps. When healthy, Jones is a threat on special teams which is why he is of value to the team.
Jones brings a great attitude to the special teams room. It's a mindset that values that phase of the game, and understands just how important special teams can be to a game. The 10-year vet has played a total of 1,388 snaps totaling 62 tackles. One area the Bills wanted to get better in during the offseason was special teams, Jones will upgrade the quality of play in that room. When needed, he can also provide depth in the running back room too.
Offensive line wasn't the biggest need for the Bills heading into this season because Buffalo revamped their offensive line entering last season. Even though the Bills mainly saw the same five players on the line in 2019, Buffalo did face some injuries in which offensive line depth was needed. Offensive lineman Daryl Williams will be able to help in this area.
Williams comes to Buffalo from, you guessed it, the Carolina Panthers where he played for five seasons. Similar to many free agents, Williams offers position flexibility. In 2019 he started 12 games, in five of those he played left guard, in four games he played left tackle and played at right guard for three games. The addition may not fill an immediate need, but Williams will be a valuable player due to his ability to rotate at multiple positions.