NFL Free Agency: Buffalo Bills Sign Former Green Bay Packers LB Nick Barnett

Robert Quinn@@RQuinn619Correspondent IJuly 31, 2011

GREEN BAY, WI - AUGUST 26: Nick Barnett #56 of the Green Bay Packers watches from the sidelines as his teammates take on the Indianapolis Colts during a preseason game at Lambeau Field on August 26, 2010 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Colts 59-24. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Former Green Bay Packers linebacker Nick Barnett, signed with the Buffalo Bills this afternoon after spending the afternoon watching walk thrus at St. John Fisher College. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the deal is three years for $12 million, with $6 million guaranteed. 

The Bills were in the market for inside linebackers after Paul Posluszny bolted for the Jacksonville Jaguars, and another reported target, former Chargers linebacker Kevin Burnett, singed with their AFC East rival Miami Dolphins.

Barnett is surely a solid fit for the Bills, as he fits George Edwards' hybrid 3-4 defensive front, and is obviously an upgrade over the current starters Reggie Torbor and Andra Davis.  

Barnett appeared in only four games last season with the Packers due to injuries, before being notified of his release on July 26. However, in 2009 Barnett posted solid statistics, racking up 105 tackles, four sacks and defending seven passes.

Barnett is regarded by some as injury-prone, due to his limited playing time in 2010 and 2008, but that surely didn't stop general manager Buddy Nix from locking up a solid player who is an instant upgrade to their weak linebacker corps.

Hey, Nix claimed outside linebacker Shawne Merriman off of waivers towards the end of the 2010 season after the San Diego Chargers gave up on their former perennial Pro Bowl pass-rusher. 

Bills linebacker coach, Bob Sanders, is very familiar with Barnett, as the two worked together for several years in Green Bay.

Overall, signing Barnett was a necessary move for the Buffalo Bills' defense, as Kelvin Sheppard, the heir apparent to the starting inside linebacker position, needs a year to learn from experienced vets before he will be able to fully comprehend one of the most important positions on a NFL franchise.