That lesson was conveyed when the team announced on its website that it had released the defensive end on Tuesday afternoon.
Cutting the pass-rusher in the second year of a four-year deal worth $19.5 million comes as a shock.
When taken in context, though, it's not as much of a surprise. The Bills signed Anderson with hopes that he would provide some of the pass rush he had given to the division rival Patriots the year before (10 sacks in 2011, 2.5 sacks in the 2011 playoffs).
Instead, their pass-rushing stud turned into a dud. Anderson logged just one sack in 2012, slowed by a nagging knee injury that limited him to five games.
The knee may have had something to do with it, but the new defensive scheme may have contributed to the decision as well. With new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine at the helm, the team is expected to employ the nickel defense as its new base LINK.
Anderson has played almost his entire career in the 4-3 defense. The lone exception came in five games at the end of the 2011 season (two regular-season games, three playoff games), when the Patriots switched from the 4-3 to the 3-4 following an injury to defensive end Andre Carter that forced head coach Bill Belichick to generate a pass rush in new ways.
A lack of scheme fit and production added up to a lack of value for Anderson's big contract.
According to Over The Cap, the Bills will absorb a hit of $500,000 in 2013, but they'll have an opportunity to divide the dead money over the next two years, so they don't have to take the full brunt of the hit in 2013.
They'll also get around $2.5 million in relief in 2014.
His expendability was compounded by the separate acquisitions of linebacker Manny Lawson and defensive end Jerry Hughes. The two edge defenders could be seen as better fits for the new scheme, and at much lower prices.
Both have more experience standing up and rushing from a two-point stance, as will likely be asked of them by new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine in the 3-4 scheme.
While Anderson was one of the Bills' more highly publicized free-agent signings in recent memory—aside from Mario Williams—his release shouldn't come as much of a shock.
Erik Frenz is also a Patriots/AFC East writer for Boston.com. Unless otherwise noted, all stats obtained from the Sports-Reference.com network and all quotes obtained firsthand or via team press releases.
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