There has been a lot of speculation that the Buffalo Bills will spend big bucks to acquire a superior pass rusher in 2012. That could be drafting a player like Courtney Upshaw or signing a player like Mario Williams. While both of those players will surely help the Bills, Kirk Morrison can transition into the pass rusher the Bills so desperately need.
Morrison played in only 14 games for Buffalo in 2011, recording seven tackles and a sack. Yet Buffalo is negotiating to re-sign him for 2012. Why? The Bills know that Morrison wasn't given a lot of playing time and they know he is capable of a lot more than what his 2011 stats would imply. While Buffalo knows a pass rusher is a necessity in the offseason, they also believe that Morrison can be the difference. And he should be.
New defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt wants Morrison in a Bills uniform next season. If Morrison was such a non-factor last year, how can Wannstedt resurrect his career? Well, let's take a quick glance into the past.
Before being traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars prior to the 2010 season, Morrison had a great career as an Oakland Raider. He racked up at least 116 tackles in every season he played in with Oakland. Despite 89 tackles as a Jaguar, he was released by the squad and wasn't signed until late August of 2011. So why does Wannstedt need him in Buffalo?
Morrison proved to be a solid starter for the Raiders ever since his rookie season. He has been a captain on the Raiders. Before his stint in Buffalo, he started 95 of his 96 games played. He has proven that he can play at a high level in the league. All he needs is a chance to re-establish himself.
His Jacksonville stint didn't go as planned, but Buffalo could revive him. With Buffalo switching to a 4-3, Morrison could return to the player who thrived in Oakland. He wasn't a great player in the 3-4. He should compete with the inexperienced Kelvin Sheppard for a starting spot if re-signed. Wannstedt knows what he is doing and Morrison knows how to play.
The Bills can get away with paying very little for such a big impact player. Morrison hardly played in 2011 but Chan Gailey wouldn't openly state that Buffalo is trying to re-sign him if he didn't have a role in 2012. He is a leader, and with Nick Barnett the Bills could have a solid linebacker core. Pretend that Buffalo follows through with adding a pass rusher, they would have good depth at a position where injuries have been common.
Morrison will not record monster statistics in Buffalo. He might not even start if he is signed. However, he will be consistent and thrive in the new scheme that Buffalo is creating. All he needs is a chance to show he can play, and Wannstedt believes he can. He should be a bargain for Buffalo and could be the difference at linebacker. After all, why look for extra help at linebacker when you have a quality one in your own backyard?