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The Bills went a long way toward improving their run defense—as well as their pass rush—by making a trade this past weekend for DT Marcus Stroud, formerly of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Stroud is a big man, but also very quick, and a great pursuer. He’s 6’6″ and 308 pounds. That’s a big man in the middle, something the Bills have been sorely lacking in recent years. And, it has shown as Buffalo’s run defense has been in the statistical cellar for the past three seasons.
The first free agent to sign was Kawika Mitchell from the world champion NY Giants. Mitchell came over to NY from the Chiefs as a free agent in 2007, and then signed a five-year deal Friday to play for the Bills. His style is reminiscent of the great Buffalo Bills LB Darryl Talley. Buffalo fans hope he can match Talley’s energy and accomplishments over the next five years or more.
Now with a solid corp of line backers in Paul Posluszny, Angelo Crowell, and Kawika Mitchell, the Bills turned their attention to the fat guys.
At just about the time the deal for Stroud was announced, the Bills also inked a deal with free agent DT Spencer Johnson of the Minnesota Vikings. Johnson played alongside former Bills DT Pat Williams and Vikings other fat man, Kevin Williams. Johnson joked about his day in the sun being overshadowed by the trade for Stroud, saying he’s used to it with Kevin & Pat.
Even though apparently used to being “second fiddle”, Johnson was also quite happy to be joining a line with Marcus Stroud, and presumably fellow Pro Bowler, Aaron Schobel. Add to that a couple young guys in Kyle Williams (Johnson can’t get away from the Williamses) and John McCargo, as well as Chris Kelsay and Ryan Denney, and the Bills defensive line no longer looks like a liability.
Additions were not the only news out of One Bills Drive this past week. Prior to Friday’s signings, the Bills parted ways with DT Larry Tripplett, as well as several other players leading up to the start of free agency. Gone now are Anthony Thomas, Coy Wire, Peerless Price, CB Jerametrius Butler, G Aaron Merz, and Kiwuakee Thomas.
Out with Kiwuakee, in with Kawika.
Rumors abound now on the offensive side of the ball, with vists from free agents Alge Crumpler and WR Bryant Johnson said to be happening this week. Nothing is confirmed regarding any offensive signings, but the Bills are known to be looking at the tight end position as well as adding a big, tall number two wide receiver.
Just as in 2007, the Bills have made some very fast moves with their available cap money, and in general, it seems Bills fans—and the Bills front office and coaching staff—are even more pleased with the first crop of free agent signings in 2008.