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90 players in 90 days: Defensive end Mario Addison

Buffalo’s 2020 sack leader did not make as big an impact as was hoped—can he rebound

NFL: Buffalo Bills Minicamp Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Bills revamped their defensive line heading into the 2020 season, feeling that their pass rush needed help after a middle-of-the-pack showing in 2019. Buffalo did sign the two players who led their 2020 team in sacks as free agents prior to the season, which is a plus in terms of grading acquisitions. However, those players only managed five sacks apiece.

While sacks might not tell the whole story of an edge player’s effectiveness, it’s always nice to have a guy that the opposing team knows is a threat to blow up any play at any given time. Buffalo did not have a player who was that dangerous last year, though there were flashes of excellence.

In today’s installment of our “90 players in 90 days” series, we profile a veteran defensive end looking for one last big season.

Name: Mario Addison

Number: 97

Position: DE

Height/Weight: 6’3” 260 lbs

Age: 33 (34 on 9/6/2021)

Experience/Draft: 11; signed with the Chicago Bears as an undrafted free agent following the 2011 NFL Draft

College: Troy

Acquired: Signed with Bills on 3/27/2020

Financial situation (per Spotrac): Addison enters the second year of his three-year free-agent contract he signed last spring, but he restructured it this offseason voiding the final year. His 2021 cap hit is $8,177,941, which is the fourth-highest on the team. His salary was guaranteed as part of the restructure, so they’d owe him that if he was here or not. If they trade him, his dead-cap hit would be north of $4.8 million.

2020 Recap: Addison entered 2020 coming off a four-year stretch with the Carolina Panthers where he averaged ten sacks and ten tackles-for-loss per season, but his numbers took a dive with the Bills. He started off hot, notching two sacks, three tackles for loss, two quarterback hits, and two pass breakups in his first three games of the year; however, he cooled off after that. Addison finished tied with another former Panther, linebacker A.J. Klein, for the team lead in sacks with five. Addison totaled 30 tackles, seven tackles-for-loss, eight quarterback hits, and four pass breakups in addition to his five sacks. In the playoffs, Addison had ten tackles, a quarterback hit, a sack, a forced fumble, and three tackles-for-loss.

Positional outlook: Addison is in line to start across from fellow veteran Jerry Hughes at defensive end. A.J. Epenesa earned more snaps last year, and he’ll be joined by rookies Gregory Rousseau and Boogie Basham as players who will challenge for time throughout the season. Darryl Johnson, Mike Love, and Efe Obada round out the group.

2021 Offseason: Addison is healthy and he has attended offseason activities thus far.

2021 Season outlook: Addison’s large dead-cap number suggests that he will be on the roster in 2021, though in what role remains to be seen. The Bills added a free-agent pass rusher in Obada and then drafted edge rushers with their first two picks this year, so they are clearly trying to revamp the position group yet again. With Addison and Hughes quickly heading towards the twilight of their respective careers, that’s a smart investment in the future. I don’t think that Addison will find himself a healthy scratch like Trent Murphy was this year, but if the rookies develop and Obada shines in a situational pass-rush role, the Bills have shown that they don’t care how much money a player makes when it comes to making decisions about playing time. Addison is valued as a leader, and he was still fairly disruptive last season in spurts. I think he’ll begin the year as the starter before ceding more time to the younger players in the season’s latter half.