The Buffalo Bills have one of the deepest defensive lines in the NFL—and if you don’t want to take my word for it, ESPN’s Bill Barnwell remarked that Buffalo might just have the league’s deepest defensive line heading into the 2020 NFL season. Even after losing defensive end Shaq Lawson and defensive tackle Jordan Phillips, Buffalo still boasts a fearsome defensive line unit.
At defensive end, the Bills needed to do two things this offseason. First, they needed to find an immediate replacement for Lawson. Second, they needed to add at least one young, impact piece for the future. The Bills were able to do both via free agency and the draft.
In today’s edition of “91 players in 91 days,” we profile the veteran addition who figures to make an immediate impact as Lawson’s replacement.
Name: Mario Addison
Height/Weight: 6’3”, 260 lbs.
Age: 32 (33 on 9/6/2020)
Experience/Draft: 10; signed with Chicago Bears as UDFA following 2011 NFL Draft
Acquired: Signed with Bills on 3/27/2020
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Addison signed a three-year contract worth a total of $30.45 million this offseason. Given that Shaq Lawson signed a similar contract with the Miami Dolphins (three years, $30 million), many fans saw it as the Bills investing in an older player over a younger one. However, one major difference between the contracts is in the guarantees. Addison’s contract calls for a total of $13.25 million guaranteed, and most of that guaranteed money is set to be paid out this year. Addison’s cap number for 2020 is $9,968,750, the third-highest number on the team.
2019 Recap: Addison continued a string of strong play last year, completing his fourth consecutive season with at least nine sacks. From 2011-2015, Addison played sparingly and only totaled 16 sacks. From 2016-2019, Addison received more time and he blossomed, amassing a total of 39 sacks. Last year, he notched 9.5 sacks, six tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles, and 14 quarterback hits in 15 games, all starts.
Positional outlook: At present, Addison figures to slot in as either the starter across from Jerry Hughes or the immediate backup to Hughes and fellow roster holdover Trent Murphy. Along with A.J. Epenesa, that foursome makes up the current top of the depth chart...unless you consider Quinton Jefferson, listed on Buffalo’s official roster, as more of a defensive end than a defensive tackle. Along with younger players like Darryl Johnson Jr., Mike Love, Jonathan Woodard, and Bryan Cox Jr., the defensive end group is full of talented depth.
2020 Offseason: Nothing terribly new to report here, although Addison gave an interview a few weeks ago where he said that Buffalo already feels like home given the number of familiar faces on the staff and among the players.
2020 Season outlook: Addison will probably wind up as the starter across from Hughes. The question is whether the team will keep a veteran (Murphy) among the rotational pieces or go with a younger player (Johnson Jr.) to work in with the team’s top 2020 NFL Draft choice in Epenesa. Addison’s contract is structured beautifully, as it essentially amounts to a one-year deal worth a total of $13.25 million that contains two option years—Buffalo can release Addison prior to 2021 at only a $4 million dead-cap hit, and prior to 2022 at only a $2 million dead-cap hit—so if Addison’s late-career improvements are slowed by the undefeated clutches of Father Time, then the team can opt out at a minimal financial cost. If Addison continues to play better at an advanced age, then they can hold on to the disruptive rusher at market rate. That’s all a discussion for the future, however, At present, Addison is a roster lock for 2020, and he will probably play somewhere around 60% of the defensive snaps, as well.