Free agent defensive tackle Sam Rayburn is in Orchard Park today visiting the Buffalo Bills. Rayburn, a fourth-year veteran, was released by the Philadelphia Eagles shortly after they signed DT Ian Scott, a highly-touted free agent from the Chicago Bears. Stacked with depth at that position, Rayburn became expendable.
Rayburn made it to the league as an undrafted free agent out of Tulsa and spent his first four years in the league with Philly. He is the right size for Buffalo's Cover-2 scheme (6'3", 303) and has enough athleticism to play here as well. Described as a "blue-collar guy", he is a hustler (and probably a bit of an overachiever) and seems to fit the mold remarkably well in terms of what Marv Levy looks for in his defensive linemen.
As most Bills fans know, we have great depth at the D-Tackle position here. Larry Tripplett is a steady veteran, John McCargo and Kyle Williams are looking promising heading into their second seasons and young Tim Anderson has experience here as well. We also acquired another former Eagles tackle in Darwin Walker, who is currently holding out for a new deal.
Either this visit is an attempted kick in the teeth to Walker, who doesn't have much production on which to base his new contract demands, or it is a depth move and the Bills plan on keeping five defensive tackles. My guess at this point is the latter - Buffalo acquired Walker with the knowledge that he'd be seeking a new deal, and I'm going to assume that Levy and cap specialist Jim Overdorf will get a deal done prior to the start of training camp. I think the Bills are looking at Rayburn as a potential fifth DT alternative to Tim Anderson.
It's not as if Anderson is a bad performer; it's just that he's not that great. Rayburn seems to me like he's a bit better athlete, works just as hard and may have a bit more football intelligence to work with. He was a contributor on an Eagles defense that puts quarterback pressure at a premium, and his career-high six-sack season proves that he can get after the quarterback. I would love to see him in a Bills uniform - he fits the Buffalo mold and he'd just add more depth to an already deep defensive line rotation.
Thoughts on the Rayburn visit?