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Potential Bills: OLB Karlos Dansby

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Dansby should be highly-coveted LB (

During the process of identifying the Buffalo Bills' biggest positional needs, the Buffalo Rumblings community nearly unanimously listed a pass-rushing defensive end as the one spot where the Bills most desperately needed an upgrade. Tight end, center and linebacker closely followed. We have already begun the process of profiling potential Bills free agents; for reference now and in the future, all of these profiles will be available at this link.

With the NFL's free agent signing period set to begin less than one month from today (midnight on February 27), we here at Rumblings are amidst the process of profiling several top-notch free agents that the community has identified as worthy of donning the red, white and blue in 2009. Even after signing LB Kawika Mitchell as an unrestricted free agent last off-season, the Bills still have a need for an athletic playmaker at outside linebacker (especially since Angelo Crowell's return is unlikely). Arizona's Karlos Dansby is just such a player - a big, athletic, hard-hitting athlete that's been known to make some spectacular plays throughout in his career. In case you missed it, Dansby is currently captaining a Cardinals defense that has surprisingly helped vault Arizona to Super Bowl XLIII. How likely is it that the Cardinals, even if they lose in the Super Bowl this coming Sunday, let their defensive captain go? That's what we're here to find out.

Karlos Dansby
Age 27 at start of 2009 season
6'4", 250 pounds
5-year NFL veteran out of Auburn

With LB Angelo Crowell an unrestricted free agent and likely on his way out of Buffalo (despite his recent public comments), the Bills will once again be searching for an outside linebacker to play in front of the often-overmatched Keith Ellison. With several viable options available at outside linebacker this year, Arizona's Dansby should be the most coveted, as he is the most versatile of this year's crop, and he's also the best playmaker. In five seasons, Dansby has sacked, tackled and intercepted his way to becoming one of the NFL's most underrated linebackers.

I'm no authority on the Cardinals, but Hawkwind of Revenge of the Birds most certainly is. SB Nation's Cardinals blogger took some time out of his Super Bowl partying preparations to give us a little insight on Dansby and his upcoming free agency. Take it away, Hawkwind...

On Dansby's potential price tag
"The rub with Dansby is that he saw his buddy, Calvin Pace, get money whipped last year and he wants a piece of that action. He'll likely hold out for a slightly bigger contract than Pace got from the Jets, which amounted to 6 years for $42 million with $22 million guaranteed. That's an awfully big lump to swallow, but that's the price of a defensive playmaker these days."

On Dansby's on-field qualities
"Dansby's an athletic linebacker in the prime of his career. His 2008 campaign was the best season of his career with 119 tackles, 4 sacks and 2 picks. He's versatile enough to play inside in a 3-4 or any of the spots in a 4-3 and he's athletic enough to be an above average pass rusher while still being quite effective in coverage. The only knock I'd put on him is that he can get lost in traffic at times and has some trouble shedding blocks. Others have said that they think he takes series, quarters or even games 'off,' but that's never a theory that I subscribed to. He's not a tier 1 LB like Ray Lewis or Brian Urlacher, but he's at the very top of that second tier, in my opinion."

On Arizona's interest in re-signing Dansby
"If you ask me, Dansby should be priority #1 this off season for the Cardinals (yes, that includes Kurt Warner). If you're scratching your head right now, just know that the Cardinals don't have a 'starting caliber' linebacker to take Dansby's spot if he leaves, and they certainly don't have a guy who can play at a borderline-Pro Bowl level. At least in Warner's case, they've got Matt Leinart waiting in the wings if Warner retires or signs elsewhere... The Cardinals' success this season has certainly helped their chances (of re-signing him), but they'll still have to pony up some serious dough to keep him, because he is going to test the free agent waters."

Does Dansby "Fit the Bill"?
If I'm asking myself that question, I'm going with no. Undoubtedly, adding Dansby to Buffalo's defense would work well - he's got the size and athleticism to handle tight ends in coverage, and he's versatile enough to flip-flop with Kawika Mitchell to the weak side as well. That kind of versatility would be a huge asset to defensive coordinator Perry Fewell. And, obviously, adding someone who can, you know, make plays would be outstanding as well. But with OT Jason Peters expecting a new contract and needs at so many other positions, it would be a bit too difficult to shell out $20+ million in guarantees to one player - particularly with other solid options available at the linebacker position. Linebacker is an area that the Bills should look to address through free agency, in my opinion, but the team might be biting off more than it can chew if it seriously pursues Dansby. There are more economical ways to go about filling our needs.

Still... man, would he look good in a Bills uniform. Any thoughts on Dansby that you'd like to add? Take a gander at his stat line below, vote in the poll, and let's talk about Karlos Dansby this afternoon. Many thanks to Hawkwind for the valuable insight!

Cardinals LB Karlos Dansby
Year G Tk Sk INT FF PD
2004 15 61 5.0 1 1 5
2005 15 89 4.0 3 2 5
2006 14 82 8.0 0 2 3
2007 4 99 3.5 3 4 8
2008 16 119 4.0 2 2 5
TOT 74 450 24.5 9 11 26