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Buffalo Bills All-Drought team: Linebacker 1

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Who was the best linebacker from Buffalo’s playoff drought?

The Bills were gifted with some outstanding linebackers during their playoff drought, although the majority of them played their best football after the Bills let them leave. We’re going to pick at least two starting linebackers for our All-Drought roster, so let’s pick the first one from the list!

London Fletcher

Fletcher is one of the rare iron men of NFL history, playing in every single game of his sixteen year career. For five seasons and 80 games, Fletcher was the starting middle linebacker in Buffalo. Though he was never selected to the Pro Bowl, he was an alternate several times. Fletcher owns the franchise record for combined tackles in a season, and collected more than 700 during his stint with the team. He was also a defensive captain. The Bills allowed him to sign with Washington in free agency, where he played another seven seasons, making four Pro Bowls before retiring in 2014.

Takeo Spikes

The Bills signed Spikes to a hefty six-year deal ahead of the 2003 season, hoping for a dynamic pairing with Fletcher. They saw immediate results, with the linebacker making his first Pro Bowl in 2003. Spikes was then voted first-team All-Pro in 2004, a season with five interceptions (two returned for touchdowns), four forced fumbles, three sacks, and 96 tackles. In 2005, Spikes tore his Achilles tendon, ending his season after three games. He returned in 2006, but played more gingerly, and a hamstring strain led to another four missed games. The Bills traded him to the Eagles in 2007, and he played six more seasons for a few different teams before retiring.

Paul Posluszny

To replace Fletcher, the Bills added Posluszny in the second round of the draft. The rookie from Linebacker U was an instant fan favorite, but a broken arm ended his first season after only three games. In 2008, he returned without skipping a beat, finishing the season with 110 combined tackles, a forced fumble, and an interception. Posluszny became a team captain in 2009, and was again a tackling machine in the center of Buffalo’s defense (though he gained a reputation for cleaning up five yards downfield instead of stopping runs near the line of scrimmage). After the 2010 season, Posluszny was a free agent, and while the Bills wanted to sign him, he had no interest in bulking up to 250 pounds for their 3-4 vision, so he signed with Jacksonville, where he remained until his retirement this offseason.

Nick Barnett

Desperately needing athleticism on their bulky 3-4 defense, the Bills signed Barnett in 2011 when the Packers released him. The 30-year-old was right at home as a rangy playmaker in Buffalo’s defense, starting 16 games with three interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), a forced fumble, three sacks, and 130 combined tackles. In 2012, he started another full season, with three forced fumbles, two sacks, and 112 combined tackles. Ahead of the 2013 season, the Bills decided to release Barnett, and he played one more season in the NFL.

Preston Brown

The Bills selected Brown in the third round of the 2014 draft, looking for a player to complement Kiko Alonso and Nigel Bradham. When Alonso tore his ACL and Bradham was suspended four games for violating the substance abuse policy, Brown became the day one starter at middle linebacker. Over the next four seasons, Brown would play in every one of Buffalo’s games, starting 62 of 64. He was a dependable if not outstanding player, good for 100 tackles and a couple big plays per year. In 2017 he led the league in tackles as the Bills broke their playoff drought.


Time to vote! Who was the best linebacker from the drought era? After we know a winner, we’ll select a second starter from the remaining candidates, plus there’s an option to sneak in a flex player if you want a third starter. Next time, we’ll talk about Buffalo’s cornerbacks.

Poll

Who was the best linebacker of the Buffalo Bills playoff drought?

This poll is closed

  • 54%
    London Fletcher
    (844 votes)
  • 37%
    Takeo Spikes
    (572 votes)
  • 3%
    Paul Posluszny
    (61 votes)
  • 0%
    Nick Barnett
    (8 votes)
  • 3%
    Preston Brown
    (52 votes)
1537 votes total Vote Now