The Buffalo Bills announced on Friday that free agent safety Robert Blanton is visiting One Bills Drive.
Free agent safety Robert Blanton has arrived at One Bills Drive and is currently visiting with the @buffalobills.— Buffalo Bills PR (@BuffaloBillsPR) March 18, 2016
Blanton, 26, is a four-year veteran of the Minnesota Vikings, who made him a fifth-round pick out of Notre Dame in the 2012 NFL Draft (taken 15 picks after the Bills selected LSU cornerback Ron Brooks, who just left for Philadelphia via free agency). The 6'1", 200-plus pound defensive back was a quality special teams performer for the Vikings throughout his four years there, and had a career season as a 13-game starter during the 2014 season, when he recorded 106 tackles and an interception.
Earlier this offseason, the Vikings re-signed Andrew Sendejo to a four-year, $16 million contract, cementing him as a starter next to Pro Bowl safety Harrison Smith, and clearing the way for Blanton to hit the open market. His visit with the Bills is his first reported interest from another team this offseason.
Blanton is the first traditional unrestricted free agent that the Bills have hosted this offseason; the other four - tight end Jim Dray (who signed), guard Jahri Evans, receiver Deonte Thompson, receiver Jeremy Kerley, and running back Joique Bell - were either released or not tendered by their previous employer. If the Bills end up signing Blanton, he could cancel out Brooks in the NFL's compensatory draft pick formula.
The Bills could use some depth at safety behind projected starters Aaron Williams (returning from a neck injury) and Corey Graham. Their top reserve from a year ago, Bacarri Rambo, was not tendered as a restricted free agent, and is currently able to sign with any team. Blanton has played safety in the NFL, but was a cornerback at Notre Dame.