Undoubtedly the biggest blow for the Bills this offseason was the loss of inside linebacker Paul Posluszny to the Jaguars. This is turn was followed by the inability to sign free agent Kevin Burnett (now of the Dolphins, yuck) as well. While Kelvin Sheppard is more so pegged as a starter down the road, the Bills have a hole to fill as neither Sheppard or Reggie Torbor are the ideal starter (as of right now) for a starting position. Given the importance of the inside linebacker in the 3-4 scheme and coming off of a year in which the front seven struggled heavily, particularly in the run, the Bills would be better off in my opinion to acquire an experienced inside linebacker in the free agent market.
The best option on the market is Nick Barnett of the Packers. At 30, Barnett is halfway through his career and is coming of two big injuries in the last three years. However, Barnett is an establish 3-4 linebacker particularly against the run who only got cut by the Packers to make salary cap room. For his first five seasons Barnett made over 100 tackles. In 2008 he made 49 (in 9 games), 105 in 2009 (playing all 16 games) and only 24 (after 4 games).
Second is Kirk Morrison of the Jacksonville Jaguars. At 29, Morrison also does well against the run playing in a 4-3 scheme but is not as solid in pass defense (but not bad either). Not exactly a fair trade for Poz in retrospect but still a good option. In the past three years Morrison made 135 tackles (2008), 133 tackles (2009) and 89 tackles (2010).
Also on the list is Stephen Cooper of the San Diego Chargers. At 32, Cooper is the oldest of the free agents worth looking at but had a fair 2010 campaign overall next to Kevin Burnett in a 3-4 defense. In 2008 Cooper made 98 tackles and 4 interceptions, while in 2009 he had 102 and got 43 (missing 4 games) this past year.
Fourth on the list is Channing Crowder of the Miami Dolphins. While more vocal than elite, Crowder still has some playmaking ability after being released by the Fins, but is the youngest at 27 and good for two downs (according to Walter) which could be good if CHIX is trying to develop Shepp. Crowder had 113 tackles in 2008, but only 51 in '09 and 39 in 2010 (missing five games).
Last on this list is Akin Ayodele of the Bills. At 31, Ayodele took a little while to find his form but after Andra Davis went down with an injury, managed to finish strong with over 100 tackles for third on the team in 2010. In the two years before in Miami, Ayodele had 75 and 71 tackles respectively. While Ayodele is not the most talented of this group, he does know the Bills defensive schemes and could jump right in.
Now its your turn to vote. Go Bills!