We have our first Buffalo Bills rumor of this free-agency period and it comes along the defensive line with a top free-agent prospect. According to Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle, the Bills are said to be interested in Houston Texans defensive tackle D.J. Reader.
“Reader is one of the stoutest and most versatile defensive linemen in the game as he’s capable of lining up all over the line of scrimmage,” says Wilson. “At 6-4, 337 pounds, Reader plays with a lot of power and athleticism and has sound technique. He may be too expensive for the Texans to retain and is expected to command an annual compensation of $11 million to $13 million.”
The Bills could use a multi-faceted player on the defensive line with looming holes at 3-tech defensive tackle and defensive end as well as the loss of sometimes-rusher Lorenzo Alexander to retirement, but Reader is not a pass rusher. He managed just 6.5 sacks in four season with the Texans in their 3-4 defensive front where he played some NT but mostly DE. It’s likely Reader would be a direct replacement for Jordan Phillips, but with lower sack numbers, and wouldn’t see any time at the Bills’ 4-3 defensive end spot.
The rest of the reported interest doesn’t really make sense. Already spending big money on Jerry Hughes and Star Lotulelei, the Bills also have a first-round investment in Ed Oliver and an up-and-coming player in Harrison Phillips. One of the reasons they weren’t going to re-sign Jordan Phillips is his contract demands were so high and the snaps aren’t necessarily there to justify the cost but Reader’s contract demands are likely higher for similar snaps.
According to the report, the Denver Broncos and Tennessee Titans are also interested in the defensive tackle. The Bills are going to get in a bidding war with three other teams over a guy who would play 50% to maybe 60% of the snaps? Without knowing the domino effect, it doesn’t make a ton of sense.
We will keep monitoring the situation as free agency opens in just over a week.