2012 NFL Free Agents: Buffalo Bills Sign Former Patriots DE Mark Anderson

Zach KruseSenior Analyst IMarch 21, 2012

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 27:  Vince Young #9 of the Philadelphia Eagles is tackled by Mark Anderson #95 of the New England Patriots at Lincoln Financial Field on November 27, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Think the Buffalo Bills were serious about upgrading their pass rush in 2012? 

Less than a week after signing defensive end Mario Williams, the top pass-rusher available on the free-agent market this offseason, the Bills agreed to a four-year, $27.5 million deal with former New England Patriots defensive end Mark Anderson.

The move was first reported by Aaron Wilson of Scout.com.

Anderson, who played just 640 defensive snaps in 2011, tallied 12.5 sacks and two forced fumbles as a pass-rush specialist for the Patriots last season. He also managed 2.5 sacks during New England's playoff run. 

While he may not play every down for the Bills, Anderson will team with Williams on the edge to give the Bills a much-improved pass rush from the one that has ranked in the bottom third of the NFL in recent seasons.

According to Pro Football Focus, Anderson played on 444 snaps with the Patriots in a 4-3 defense last season. In that somewhat small sample season, Anderson still graded out as the No. 13 overall 4-3 defensive end, with six quarterback hits and 27 pressures on top of the sack totals. 

HOUSTON - OCTOBER 02:  Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #17 of the Pittsburgh Steelers winces in pain after being sacked by outside linebacker Mario Williams #90 of the Houston Texans> at Reliant Stadium on October 2, 2011 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob
Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Bills had just rookie Marcell Dareus rank in the top half of defensive line rankings last season. In total, Buffalo registered just 29 sacks—with 10 coming in one game against the Washington Redskins.

The additions of both Williams and Anderson should help inflate that number, while giving the Bills one of the game's top defensive lines. Williams, Anderson, Kyle Williams and Dareus make up a front four that rivals any in football in terms of overall talent.

Signing Anderson also frees up the Bills to look somewhere besides the pass rush in the 2012 NFL draft. It's possible the team could use its first-round pick (No. 10 overall) on an offensive tackle, especially if Demetrius Bell leaves sometime in free agency.