CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 13: Nick Barnett #50 of the Buffalo Bills watches as his teammates take on the Chicago Bears during a preseason game at Soldier Field on August 13, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Bills 10-3. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
In late July, the Buffalo Bills lost free agent linebacker Paul Posluszny to the Jacksonville Jaguars for the tidy sum of $42 million. The Bills then used that exact sum of money to sign three free agents - Brad Smith, Drayton Florence and Nick Barnett, the latter of which will make $12 million over three years as Posluszny's replacement.
There is a belief out there - promoted most recently by Pro Football Focus - that the Bills actually upgraded at inside linebacker for a fraction of the cost by moving from Posluszny to Barnett.
Per Khaled Elsayed, Barnett was PFF's second-highest graded 3-4 inside linebacker in 2009 as a member of the Green Bay Packers. Though Elsayed is quick to note that Barnett is a more significant injury risk than Posluszny was - Barnett has appeared in 29 games over the past three seasons, as opposed to Posluszny's 42 - they also consider Barnett's athleticism and coverage abilities a better fit for the hybrid 3-4 and 4-3 defense that George Edwards seems to favor.
Time will tell if they're right, but (very) early returns are favorable.