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Pepper Johnson joins Buffalo Bills coaching staff

Former New England Patriots assistant coach Pepper Johnson has signed on to become the next defensive line coach of the Buffalo Bills.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Pepper Johnson, an NFL linebacker for 13 years and a New England Patriots assistant coach since 2000, is the newest member of the Buffalo Bills coaching staff, according to a report from Pete Roussel of Mike Reiss of confirms the addition (as conveyed by colleague Mike Rodak), with Roussel's report adding that Johnson will be the Bills' defensive line coach.

Johnson, 49, made two Pro Bowls, was a first team All-Pro and won two Super Bowl rings (yes, including one over the Bills in XXV) during his playing career with the Giants, Browns, Lions and Jets. Following his retirement after the 1998 season, Johnson joined Bill Belichick's coaching staff in 2000, where he's spent the last 14 years with four different job titles: assistant linebackers coach (2000), inside linebackers coach (2001-03), defensive line coach (2004-11) and linebackers coach (2012-13).

On January 22, Johnson announced that he'd be leaving the Patriots to explore new coaching opportunities. Many took the news to mean that Johnson was looking for a new environment with the potential to grow above the ranks of a position coach; there obviously aren't any coordinator gigs available anymore, so Johnson has apparently elected to join the Bills working under Jim Schwartz, another member of the Belichick coaching tree.

If the report that Johnson will be the Bills' defensive line coach is accurate, it signals that Anthony Weaver, who held that job title last season for Buffalo, is on his way out - likely following Mike Pettine to the Cleveland Browns, as has been speculated for more than a week.

The Bills confirmed the hiring late on Friday evening, along with the addition of new linebackers coach Fred Pagac.