It's a grizzly day in Buffalo.
Stale snow, littered across sidewalk tiles, dulls the atmosphere around here.
Looking forward to Cam Newton is the only thing that could inspire hope here, but Bills fans retain caution after seeing so many players come here and see their football careers fail.
There is one player who came here, though, and has been a rock in the middle of the Bills defense.
There is one player who the Bills can't afford to let go of.
There is Paul Posluszny, and the Bills need to keep him.
The middle linebacker is said to be the quarterback of the defense. In times of four-win seasons and high draft picks, the offensive and defensive signal-callers usually bear the brunt of the blame for a team's inability to string wins together.
Here in Buffalo, though, it is not the signal-callers that represent the huge problem.
It is, in fact, everyone else.
Around guys like Posluszny and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, an assortment of has-beens and never-beens litter the field. The Bills are a product of bad player evaluation and development.
Posluszny, though, has been a stalwart on the Bills defense. The young linebacker is adequate in coverage and stout in the run.
It seems as though the Bills consider releasing Posluszny to use him as a scapegoat for what has been a terrible all-around defensive effort from the front seven.
A 4-12 team is in no position to be making scapegoats out of talented players.
This offseason is not the time for the Buffalo Bills to be taking their best run-stoppers for granted. If the Bills want to keep pace with other teams in the AFC when it comes to stopping the rush, the team from upstate New York has to stay on schedule by keeping continuity on their defense.
In the tough AFC East, each team seems to have a franchise middle linebacker.
The Patriots have All-Pro Jerod Mayo, the Jets have the recently franchise-tagged David Harris, and the Dolphins have Super Bowl linebacker Karlos Dansby. It is not time for the Bills to let go of their franchise middle linebacker and create a void not easily filled.
Posluszny has been a quiet, non-distracting player, something the Bills should value.
When distractions such as Terrell Owens and Donte Whitner have been cancerous to the young locker room in need of veteran leaders who lead by example, Posluszny is a nice throwback.
When busts such as Trent Edwards and Aaron Maybin have set the Bills back by a few years, Posluszny provides a beacon of hope with player development.
The Bills recently brought in Shawne Merriman and are probably looking to add another free agent linebacker with something to prove. Posluszny has been calling plays for the Bills defense for years, and helped to ease in veterans like Marcus Stroud to the Bills system.
Merriman needs a stout linebacking corps around him, and it all starts with Posluszny's ability to make players around him better.
The secondary is developing. The defensive line now has a star in Kyle Williams. The Bills have built from the middle of their defense, making their strong linebacking corps into a defensive staple.
Now the Bills can't afford to let their linebacker strength fall by the wayside and release "Poz," as he is affectionately known in Buffalo. With the Bills in prime position to shore up their defense by drafting another defensive tackle to plug in next to Kyle Williams, Buffalo doesn't need to create another hole to fill.
Buffalo doesn't need to release the quarterback of their defense, Paul Posluszny.