With a new coaching staff in place, the Buffalo Bills are set to make two surprising moves. The franchise will release linebacker Nick Barnett and safety George Wilson, Buffalo's two leading tacklers in 2012. The moves will free up $6.4 million in 2013.
Barnett, a 10-year veteran out of Oregon State, spent the last two seasons in Buffalo. In 2012, he compiled 112 tackles to go along with five tackles for loss, three pass breakups and two sacks. After receiving the news from the Bills, he tweeted his appreciation for his time with the franchise:
I was told I'll be released today by the Buffalo Bills. Thanks to all the great Fans and friends I have met in Western New York.. It was— NickBarnett (@NickBarnett) February 11, 2013
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— NickBarnett (@NickBarnett) February 11, 2013
You guys will have many successful years ahead of you. Thanks #billsmafia for all your support.. Sad to leave but like they say when one— NickBarnett (@NickBarnett) February 11, 2013
Wilson just completed his seventh NFL season, all of which have been with the Bills. He totaled 104 tackles, five pass breakups and two tackles for loss. During his time in Buffalo, he totaled 412 tackles, 25 pass breakups, 12 interceptions, six tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. It's unclear how the Bills will replace him.
The moves shake up a Bills defense that wasn't good in 2012, ranking 22nd in the NFL by allowing 362.9 yards per contest.The Bills linebackers, in particular, will look very different without Barnett. Buffalo was even worse in terms of scoring defense, as it allowed 27.2 yards per contest, which ranked 26th in the league.