Buffalo Bills linebacker Lorenzo Alexander didn’t necessarily have a bad 2017 season, but he production did drop in comparison with the unbelievable campaign he had the season prior. In fairness, not even the Bills brass themselves would have expected that Alexander would have once again turned in such a strong performance, but at his age, 34-going-on-35, the Bills will almost surely ponder bumping him out of his starting outside linebacker spot.
Given his relatively low salary and the relatively low amount the Bills would save by retaining him, the decision could really go either way. Alexander, a perennial backup and special teams player prior to his arrival in Buffalo in 2015, has performed well for the Bills overall, but they could most certainly do better.
Here are four unrestricted free-agent-to-be outside linebackers that the Bills should consider to start ahead of or flat out replace Alexander with next season.
Tahir Whitehead, 27, Detroit Lions
Of the players listed here, Whitehead projects to be the most expensive option while correspondingly being the top prize. The six-year man has spent his entire career with the Lions and by large has been a real force on their defense the past four seasons.
2017 stats: 110 tackles, 1.0 sacks, and 0 forced fumbles
Career stats: 398 tackles, 3.0 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles
Nigel Bradham, 28, Philadelphia Eagles
Could the Bills and Bradham, who the team drafted in 2012 and had spend the first four years of his career with, be headed for a reunion? Bradham was the leading tackler during the regular season on a Eagles defense that finished ranked fourth overall, and is gearing up to play in the 2018 Super Bowl.
2017 stats: 88 tackles, 1.0 sacks, and 1 forced fumble
Career stats: 293 tackles, 6.5 sacks, and 5 forced fumbles
Ramon Humber, 30, Buffalo Bills
After serving as a reserve in 2016, Humber got an opportunity to start with the Bills on the opposite side of Alexander this past season. But an injury as well as the development of rookie Matt Milano saw the veteran lose his starting gig late in 2017. But even in spite of this, he still notched 22 more tackles than Alexander. Rolling with Humber to replace Alexander wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world for the Bills, but it’s not really enticing, either.
2017 stats: 89 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 forced fumble
Career stats: 299 tackles, 4.5 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles
Paul Posluszny, 33, Jacksonville Jaguars
Yet another name Bills fans will be quite familiar with. Going with Posluszny, who started three seasons for the Bills after the team drafted him in 2007, to replace Alexander is not ideal in the long run, but it could certainly work as a short-term option. At 33, Posluszny is still a tackling machine.
2017 stats: 61 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and 0 forced fumbles
Career stats: 1,214 tackles, 16.0 sacks, and 8 forced fumbles
None of these guys will your knock your socks off, per se, but they’re all solid contributors. Given what the free-agent market is shaping up to look like, the Bills would probably be better served trying to find Alexander’s potential replacement in the upcoming draft. if that doesn’t work out, though, resorting to either Whitehead, Bradham wouldn’t be bad at all. Neither would keeping Alexander.
- Film analysis: Lorenzo Alexander was solid, not spectacular, in 2017
- Bills could save some cap space by releasing Lorenzo Alexander
- Replacing Lorenzo Alexander too tall a task for already-thin Bills linebacker corps
- 2018 NFL Draft linebacker prospects for replacing Lorenzo Alexander
- State of the Bills roster: lots of free agents could lead to major overhaul