Buffalo Bills: Familiarity is important to Sean McDermott

The Buffalo Bills’ offseason plan has seen them adding some new faces to their defense and the team has turned to a few players familiar to Sean McDermott.

For the second consecutive offseason, Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane has been quite busy during the free agency period. The team made plenty of news on Monday night when it swung a deal for big-play wide receiver Stefon Diggs. The franchise obtained the talented performer from the Minnesota Vikings for a first-, fifth- and sixth-round pick this April and a fourth-round selection in 2021.

But what is extremely eye-catching is the fact that the club added a quartet of veteran defenders who all have ties to head coach Sean McDermott, as well as Beane.

First, the team signed cornerback Josh Norman last week after he was cut loose by the Washington Redskins. Now the franchise has agreed to terms with linebacker A.J. Klein — late of the New Orleans Saints — defensive end Mario Addison and defensive tackle Vernon Butler. The Bills are also adding inside linebacker Tyler Matakevich from the Pittsburgh Steelers and defensive end Quinton Jefferson from the Seattle Seahawks.

McDermott and Beane worked together in Carolina and Norman, Klein, Addison as well as defensive tackle Star Lotulelei (who signed with Buffalo in 2018) were part of the Panthers’ team that reached Super Bowl 50.

That unit was superb that season and despite the 24-10 loss to the Broncos at Levi’s Stadium, McDermott’s defense limited Denver to a mere 194 total yards that afternoon. Butler was drafted in the first round one year later.

Yes, only two teams in the NFL allowed fewer total yards than the Buffalo Bills in 2019. The team was also fourth in the league vs. the pass and a respectable 10th against the run. But that latter ranking was quite deceptive as the club allowed 131 yards per game on the ground in their six regular-season setbacks and 141 yards rushing in the playoff setback at Houston.

There were too many instances where Buffalo defenders were pushed around by some of the better offensive lines in the league. Now McDermott has a deeper roster with performers who know his system. It could add up to exciting times for a franchise that has waited a long time to be atop the AFC East once again.