He didn't have a chance to finish the 2015 season the way he wanted to. Now entering an offseason in which he's scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent, LB Nigel Bradham is just hoping there's an opportunity to re-sign with the Bills.
A high ankle sprain kept Bradham off the field for the team's last five games, but he still finished fifth on the team in tackles. Forced to learn a new defensive scheme in each of the four seasons he's been in a Bills uniform has been a challenge, Bradham has taken each of those changes in stride. Changing teams is something different.
"I really hope I'm back," said Bradham. "Obviously this is where I was drafted and the opportunity to be in this league came from here and this is where it started. I'd like to finish it."
Bradham believes in where the team is headed, even in the wake of a disappointing season on defense. He wants to help the defensive unit redeem itself in 2016 and finally end the club's playoff drought, but he knows it might not be up to him.
"Honestly, I think that it's going to be an interesting thing for me because I mean it's just something to look forward to, seeing where you're going to be," said Bradham. "Hopefully I'm still here, but if not, I mean, it's just one of those opportunities where you got a great chance to go out there and make a name for yourself."
Bills GM Doug Whaley confirmed that offensive linemen Cordy Glenn and Richie Incognito are the top priorities among their own free agents, but he did acknowledge that the team would like to have almost all of their free agents back in the fold including Bradham.
"Our main focus on free agency is to sign our own and we've done a good enough job in drafting guys and bringing guys in where we try to just keep our offensive line together and hopefully bring Nigel Bradham back," said Whaley in recent radio interview.
Rex Ryan admitted that even with the salary cap going up about $10M a year that keeping every one of their free agents is probably unrealistic, but Buffalo's head coach has respect for Bradham's game and his toughness.
Bradham calls Ryan's defense demanding for linebackers. They're required to wear a lot of different hats and execute from a lot of different alignments on defense. But it's his belief that the unit can reach its full potential in their second year in the system.
"It's one of those things we got the talent, so we pretty much just got a year with a new scheme, new coaches who pretty much just get to know each other and take advantage from that and hit the ground running," said Bradham. "We've obviously got great potential, it's been shown, so we pretty much just got to live off that and just continue to grind and get better."
Buffalo figures to add linebacker talent in the offseason to improve the number of defensive playmakers. Bradham just hopes the Bills can put together a deal that works for both sides so he can be part of that playmaking contingent.
"I would love to be back, but that's out of my control," he said. "I can only control what I can control. If I'm here then great because that's where I want to be. Obviously there are chances I might not be, but hopefully I'm here."