With the Buffalo Bills set to return to a 4-3 defensive front, the Bills were badly in need of help at the defensive end position. After signing Mario Williams to a blockbuster six-year, $100 million contract last week. Buffalo continued to rebuild its pass rush on Wednesday, agreeing to terms on a four-year, $27.5 million contract with defensive end Mark Anderson, according to a tweet by Aaron Wilson of the Carroll County Times.
Mark Anderson's Bills deal is four years for $27.5 million and $8 million fully guaranteed, per a league source
— Aaron Wilson (@RavensInsider) March 21, 2012
Anderson played for the New England Patriots in 2011, amassing 29 tackles, 10 sacks and two forced fumbles. While the seventh-year pro is a more than capable pass rusher, nearly $7 million a season may seem a steep price to pay a situational player who has generally been a liability against the run throughout his career.
However, as ESPN's James Walker points out, the Buffalo defensive line was one of the sore spots for the 6-10 Bills a season ago, tallying a measly 29 sacks on the season. What was once one of the team's weaknesses appears to now be a strength with Williams and Anderson joining defensive tackles Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus up front for the Bills.
The Bills had trouble getting to the quarterback last season and made it a point to put their resources toward fixing the issue. Anderson recorded 10 sacks for the Patriots last season. Williams has 59 career sacks and is one of the NFL's best pass-rushers. Consider the problem solved.
Buffalo's defensive line is looking downright scary. The group will be very tough to move in the middle and pass protect against on the edges.
The Anderson signing also hurts the reigning AFC East champion Patriots. New England lost last season's team leader in sacks to a division rival. The Patriots are looking to add pass-rushers, not lose them.
It certainly hasn't been cheap, but the Buffalo Bills have completely remodeled their defensive line. While we won't know for sure how all these pieces will fit together until we see the Bills in action, general manager Buddy Nix is very enthusiastic about the Bills latest addition in Anderson, telling the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle:
We’ve got a new pass rusher added to our defense. It really is a big deal for us and an exciting time. We think this made us a lot better. This guy’s about as productive as anybody around for the number of snaps he played.
Now it's just a matter of waiting to see if that excitement carries over into the regular season, and if the Bills' shiny new pass rush can give Buffalo fans something to cheer about as the team tries to climb from mediocrity back into AFC East contention.