Just about a week ago I did an interview with Nick Barnett where he spoke passionately to me about his desire to help bring the Buffalo Bills back to the playoffs. Unfortunately for Nick, if that happens it’ll be without Barnett playing.
Barnett tweeted a short time ago, and also confirmed to me that the team has notified him today that he will be released. The 32-year old was set to earn $3.5 million in the final year of a three-year deal he signed in 2011.
Barnett had 112 tackles and two sacks in 16 starts this year, slightly down from 2011 when he compiled 130 stops to go with three interceptions and three sacks.
While it matters little on the field, Barnett had one of the best relationship with the fans of any player on the team.
“I definitely can feel their frustration and completely understand it,” Barnett told me last week. “I have only been here two years and I am beyond frustrated myself. Excuses are cheap—It’s time for the Buffalo Bills to return to the postseason. I think that’s what our front office has done— put us in a position to accomplish that goal. It’s on us as players.”
“Moves like the ones we’ve made today are never easy, but we have to do what’s best for our team and keep moving forward,” said Bills GM Buddy Nix in a statement released by the team. “We’ve got some good young players on our roster who we feel are ready to take the next step and they will now have the opportunity to do so. We thank both Nick and George for everything they’ve given the Bills organization and wish them nothing but the best for the future.”
The Bills must have some big free agency plans, because Barnett is the only linebacker on the Bills roster that is of starting caliber. Kelvin Sheppard struggled in his second season and was a situational player while Nigel Bradham showed promise—but plenty of work left to do as a rookie.
With Mike Pettine as the new defensive coordinator, there’s been a buzz that the Bills will be looking to add some displaced New York Jets defenders to the roster. That buzz is surely about to grow stronger after this move. Pettine also spent four years in Baltimore and has a relationship with many of their veterans.
This is going to be another eventful offseason in Buffalo.