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Bills final roster: Jim Leonhard returns to Buffalo

Leonhard, now 30, began his playing career in Buffalo in 2005; his return reunites him not only with the Bills, but with defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.


The Buffalo Bills are apparently not yet satisfied with their depth in the defensive backfield, and are thus in the process of signing veteran free agent Jim Leonhard, according to head coach Doug Marrone.

You may recall that Leonhard began his playing career with the Bills way back in 2005 as an undrafted free agent out of Wisconsin. The signing reunites Leonhard, who turns 31 in October, with the organization that gave him his first shot in the NFL.

More importantly, Leonhard is reunited with a coach that helped Leonhard achieve the most productive seasons of his career: upon departing Buffalo, Leonhard spent four seasons playing for Mike Pettine (and, of course, Rex Ryan). The first of those years came with the Baltimore Ravens in 2008, and the following three with the New York Jets from 2009-2011.

In that four-year stretch, Leonhard started 53 of the 56 games in which he played, recording 254 tackles, 3.5 sacks, four interceptions, two forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and a touchdown. After leaving the Jets following the 2011 season, Leonhard made a few free agent stops - including one in Buffalo last summer - before eventually signing a one-year deal with the Denver Broncos. Leonhard was most recently with the New Orleans Saints, where he was one of the team's final roster cuts over the weekend.

Jairus Byrd, the top safety on the Bills' roster, is battling plantar fasciitis and has only been back in Orchard Park for a week. Da'Norris Searcy, Byrd's replacement in the starting lineup, has struggled mightily in coverage throughout the summer months. Rookie reserves Duke Williams and Jonathan Meeks, mid-round picks this past April, may not be quite ready to contribute. Perhaps the Bills are looking for a safety that can come in and play right away, and given Leonhard's history with Pettine's defense, he appears to fit that profile.

Buffalo's roster now stands at 52 players (six of them safeties), meaning that they've still got one more open roster spot. Marrone hinted that an addition along the offensive line could be coming. You can keep track of all of the Bills' roster moves in this StoryStream.