With Uchenna Nwosu and Bobby Wagner entering free agency, the Buffalo Bills have a chance to add two stud pass rushers to their front seven
CC: Bolts from the Blue, Sportsbonanza
BUFFALO, N.Y, (3/9/2022) - The Buffalo Bills finished the 2021 season with the no. 1 defense in the NFL. However, the team finished with 42 combined sacks, which ranked 11th in the league. While this helped the team win games, it fell apart in the Bills 42-36 loss against the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2021 AFC divisional round. During that game, the defense allowed 552 yards and 30 first downs.
In the previous week the Bills allowed only 305 yards and 29 first downs in the team's 47-17 win against the New England Patriots in the wild card round. The team's pass rush consisted of players who racked up decent stats but didn't provide anything special against some of the league's best offenses like the Chiefs. Both free agency and the draft give the Bills a chance to find a pass rusher that can record double-digit sacks.
In the aftermath of the NFL Scouting Combine, the team expressed interest in signing upcoming free agent Uchenna Nwosu, according to Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Focus.
The 25-year-old Los Angeles Chargers player had a career season with the team, recording 40 total tackles and five sacks. The Chargers drafted Nwosu with the 48th overall pick in 2018 and since then his numbers increased during his initial four years with the team. With free agency coming closer, general managers will look to add the stud linebacker to their front seven.
Adding Nwosu could help the team boost production from the linebacking corp, especially if outside linebacker Matt Millano, who had 86 combined tackles and three sacks, fell on the injured list. Milano missed a 2020 week-six game against the Chiefs and the Bills lost 26-17. It would also help provide a better rotation with defensive captain Tremaine Edmunds.
Edmunds finished last season with a decrease in production. He had a career low with 108 tackles, one interception and zero sacks. Even though Edumnds still produces at a solid rate, fans believe he didn't produce enough to earn a long-term contract with the team.
If the front office considered finding a replacement for Edmunds, former Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner should be on the radar.
On Tuesday, March 8, the Seahawks released Wagner after ten seasons with the team, according tho Adam Schefter. In 2021, he recorded 170 combined tackles, one sack, an interception and a forced fumble.
Wagner, 31, helped the Seahawks win the Superbowl in 2013. However, the team has since struggled to repeat their success. With the release of Wagner and the blockbuster trade of star quarterback Russel Wilson, the Seahawks entered a full rebuild.
Adding Wagner would give the Bills an established middle linebacker that can make more efficient tackles. It could also give Edmunds motivation to improve, knowing his job is jeopardized.
In an article for the Buffalo News, Beane said Edmunds has been improving each year, despite not producing high stats.
"I think, year by year, he's more comfortable being that guy, being that alpha, even though maybe it's not innately natural to him," said Beane. "“No matter what people may say, that work each year is going to be different. No matter what we did last year, no matter what we did this year, next year is going to be different as well. So we got to approach it that way. And just got to come out and stick together and take it a day at a time.”
However, interest between the Chargers and Nwosu could suggest the latter's desire to return to Los Angeles. Also, his asking price could be around $12.1 million per year, according to Sportrac.com. As for Wagner, his asking price might be around the same cost.
The Bills cap space currently sits at $1 million above the cap, according to Beane. This means the team will have to make cuts before pursuing any free agents.
With the release of linebacker A.J. Klein, who had 35 tackles and no sacks, the Bills saved $5.1 million in cap space.. They also might cut defensive tackle Star Lotuelei, who has a $9 million cap hit.
Regardless of what happens with the Bills cap space, that shouldn't keep the team from looking at Nwosu or Wagner. Adding either two would give the Bills linebacking corps a solid rotation and a more efficient pass rush to finally beat the Chiefs and advance to the Super Bowl.