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Serious The Buffalo Bills entered the 2018 season with plenty of
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The Buffalo Bills entered the 2018 season with plenty of #1
questions at the linebacker position. They had a second-year player aiming to build on a solid rookie season. They had a 20-year-old rookie manning the middle linebacker position. And they also had a wily veteran thought by many to be too old to play a majority of the snaps on defense Robert Foster Jersey , too slow to cover players, and too ill a fit at the strong side linebacker position to be a three-down player in the modern NFL.Heading into the 2019 season, the Bills have far fewer questions at the position, thanks mostly to the strong campaigns by the aforementioned trio of starters. If the Bills can add depth and a pipeline player to replace that veteran linchpin, then they can make a strong positional group even stronger.In our latest look at the state of the Bills roster, we look at the linebackers—a group where little turnover is expected heading into next season.Lorenzo AlexanderContract status for 2019: Signed; $3 million cap hit ($3 million dead cap if cut)Age: 35 (36 on 5/31/19)Playing time: 16 games (8 starts), 629 snaps(62.03% of defensive total), 171 ST snaps (38.95%)Key statistics: 74 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 10 QB hits, 6.5 sacks, 2 interceptions, 9 passes defended, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recoveredThe ageless veteran keeps on playing at a high level. Alexander has been an invaluable leader throughout his time in Buffalo, and general manager Brandon Beane made re-signing him a priority this off-season. Alexander should not be counted out, though the Bills must find a player to develop behind him as a replacement for the 2020 season. Limiting Alexander’s snaps, even if only a bit, could help the veteran to stay fresh and maintain maximum effectiveness. It could also help to prepare his replacement, whomever that may be.Tremaine EdmundsContract status for 2019: Signed; $2,877,169 cap hit ($10,357,809 dead cap if cut)Age: 20 (21 on 5/2/19)Playing time: 15 games (15 starts), 926 snaps (91.32% of defensive total), 71 ST snaps (16.17%)Key statistics: 121 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 7 QB hits, 2 sacks, 2 interceptions, 12 passes defended, 2 fumbles forcedThe youngest player in the NFL had a tremendous responsibility this season Womens Nick O'Leary Jersey , serving as the Bills’ defensive play-caller and “quarterback” of the defense as the team’s middle linebacker. He rarely came off the field, missing time due to a concussion suffered against the New England Patriots in October, but otherwise was on the field at all times. With 121 total tackles, he was tied with three other players for twelfth in the league in that category. His 12 pass breakups were second among linebackers. If his rookie year is any indication, the second of Buffalo’s first-round draft choices in 2018 has a tremendous future ahead of him.Matt MilanoContract status for 2019: Signed; $710,376 cap hit ($130,754 dead cap if cut)Age: 24 (25 on 7/28/19)Playing time: 13 games (13 starts), 741 snaps (73.08% of defensive snaps), 142 ST snaps (32.35%)Key statistics: 78 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 3 QB hits, 1 sack, 3 interceptions, 7 passes defended, 3 fumbles recovered Buffalo’s ball-hawking second-year man was having a fantastic season through 13 games, but a broken leg ended his year prematurely. Milano is undersized, but he consistently proves the old cliche that it isn’t the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog. He is a solid run-stuffer who is especially adept at penetrating rush lanes. He is a strong cover man, able to lock down running backs and tight ends alike. He should be ready for the start of training camp, and he will hopefully pick up right where he left off in 2018.Julian StanfordContract status for 2019: Signed; $1.525 million cap hit ($175,000 dead cap if cut)Age: 28 (29 on 9/2/19)Playing time: 13 games (1 start), 89 snaps (8.78% of defensive total), 225 ST snaps (51.25%)Key statistics: 15 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 QB hit, 1 sack, 1 fumble forced, 1 pass defendedThe veteran filled in at middle linebacker for Edmunds in one game this season, a 41-9 loss against the Chicago Bears. Stanford is primarily a special teams player, and he is solid veteran depth. However, if the Bills feel the need to go younger at the position, he could be the odd man out at the position. Corey ThompsonContract status for 2019: Signed; $570 ,000 cap hit ($0 guaranteed)Age: 25 (26 on 12/23/19)Playing time: 6 games (1 start), 80 snaps (7.89% of defensive total), 104 ST snaps (23.69%)Key statistics: 14 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 QB hit, 1 forced fumbleThompson joined the Bills as an undrafted free agent this year. He is a nice athlete who adds value on special teams, but he struggled at the point of attack against the run in his time filling in for Milano late this season. He will be on the bubble next year.Deon LaceyContract status for 2019: Unsigned; ERFA (per Buffalo News)Age: 28 (29 on 7/18/19)Playing time: 16 games (0 starts), 14 snaps (1.38% of defensive total), 299 ST snaps (68.11%)Key statistics: 7 tacklesWhile Lacey doesn’t exactly fill up the stats line, he does play more on special teams than any other person on Buffalo’s roster. As an exclusive-rights free agent (one that I admittedly missed earlier this off-season, as Spotrac doesn’t have him listed as such), the Bills would be wise to bring him back next season.Positional OutlookThe Bills are set here in terms of the starting lineup heading into 2019. Alexander, Edmunds, and Milano will all reprise their roles barring injury or an unforeseen addition. The team would certainly do well to add a future replacement for Alexander through the draft, which means that one of the three players the team has in reserve could be in jeopardy. With Lacey seeing more special teams snaps than any other Buffalo player in both 2017 and 2018, it’s unlikely that he is the odd man out. If the team decides to go young, they’ll keep Thompson and release Stanford, saving a touch under $1 million in the process. If the team wants to keep Stanford, then they could release Thompson and try to sign him to the practice squad, which is the more likely scenario given Stanford’s versatility and Thompson’s struggles with an expanded role during December.Whatever Buffalo decides to do, they are in a favorable position here. They have their starters, they have their special teams options, but best of all, they have their leader. With Kyle Williams retiring, that final point makes a world of difference. RENTON, Wash. (AP) — Seahawks coach Pete Carroll wanted to be talking about football matters — Seattle’s recommitment to the run game, the addition of two new coordinators, almost anything to do with what happens between the lines.Instead, the league’s oldest coach has spent the past few days processing and discussing the league’s new mandate that players on the field stand for the national anthem. Carroll, his players and those around the NFL are now trying to figure out how to tackle the polarizing topic in the locker room.“We’re going to have to deal with that,” Carroll said. “I was kind of liking the way it was going and so now it’s kind of taken out of the control from the coach and the players and the locker room to a certain extent, so we’re going to have to deal with that. In time Stephen Hauschka Jersey , we’ll figure it out.”Players from Seattle, Buffalo, Denver and New Orleans were among those grappling with how to move forward following the league’s announcement Wednesday of a new national anthem policy, which will fine teams if players on the field are not standing for the anthem. Players wishing to continue demonstrations like the kneeling movement sparked by Colin Kaepernick to protest social injustice will be allowed to remain in the locker room during the anthem.Seattle’s Doug Baldwin had the most striking comments, directed at both the league and President Donald Trump after his remarks to “Fox & Friends” on Thursday saying “maybe you shouldn’t be in the country” if you don’t stand for the anthem.“He’s an idiot. Plain and simple,” Baldwin said. “I respect the man because he’s a human being first and foremost, but he’s just being divisive, which is not surprising. It is what it is. But for him to say anybody who doesn’t follow his viewpoints or his constituents viewpoints should be kicked out of the country is not very empathetic. It’s not very American like, actually, to me. It’s not very patriotic. It’s not what this country was founded upon. It’s kind of ironic to me the President of the United States is contradicting what our country is really built on.”Even normally reserved Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson agreed with the sentiment that the owners’ decision was a message to players to essentially be quiet.“Pretty much. I think that’s part of it. It seems that way,” Wilson said. “But I think a policy right or wrong is not going to fix our problems.”The new policy allows teams to adopt their own workplace rules, which many players interpreted as a backhanded way of subjecting them to fines, suspensions or loss of jobs should they carry on with the protests.Players are also frustrated the league didn’t consult with the players’ association before announcing the policy.“I mean, they weren’t ever going to engage us anyway. When you really think about it, why would we have a say-so?” Denver linebacker Brandon Marshall said. “I think they should have, right, but I guess they don’t look at us like that, to have a say-so or input in this policy.”Others around the league didn’t see the policy as a potential issue.“I’m really not too worried about it. I would expect that everybody’s gonna be out there with their hand over their heart, showing respect to the flag and to the country,” New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees said.But teammate Demario Davis had mixed emotions about the policy. His father served in the military, but he also understands why players have been protesting.“I just think that when you love something — you care about it — you want to work to get it right. I love my children. When they do wrong things, I’m going to let them know they’re doing wrong things. I’m not just going to sweep it under the rug because I love them,” Davis said.“I think that’s the difference between patriotism and nationalism. Nationalism is loving your country just to love it, you know, even when it’s right or wrong, you’re going to take the side of your country. Patriotism is loving it enough to sacrifice for it, but also to call it (out) when it’s wrong.“The people who are speaking up for the people who are hurting have a deep love and devotion for our country. That’s kind of gotten misconstrued at times. But it’s important for people to understand that.”The decision by the owners was an attempt to quell a firestorm by moving protests away from the public eye and potentially lure back disgruntled fans. But in the process they may have disgruntled their employees and rekindled what appeared to be an issue that was dying down.“With this policy, with the inflammatory statement that Roger Goodell put out (Wednesday) again you opened the door for response and again to my point earlier, I think they missed it on that one,” Baldwin said.——AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton and AP Sports Writer Brett Martel contributed to this report.


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