According to a source I spoke with close to Nick Barnett, interest in the former Buffalo Bills linebacker has heated up over the last week, with at least four teams around the league reaching out to him.
The source says that the Buffalo Bills are not among the teams that have called Barnett, making it very likely his time in Buffalo is over for good. Barnett was released by Buffalo on February 11, but many have speculated the team may try to bring back the 10-year veteran at a reduced rate.
Barnett was due a $3.5 million base salary in 2013.
He spent the past two seasons in Buffalo and led the team in tackles both years. He had 130 tackles to go with three interceptions and three sacks in 2011, and racked up 112 stops with two sacks last year despite playing much of the season banged up and in an unfamiliar position in Buffalo’s defensive scheme.
Barnett was regarded as one of the higher rated linebackers in this free agent class but has yet to catch on with anther organization. Overall this has been an extremely slow and tentative free agent market, particularly for older veterans and Barnett, like many other talents out there are being forced to play the waiting game.
The source says Barnett is unlikely to sign anywhere until after the NFL draft is over.
Personally, my opinion has been on the record saying the Bills made a mistake in letting Barnett go. He still had a year left on his contract and the Bills are extremely young and unproven at linebacker, particularly on the inside. If nothing else Barnett could’ve provided solid veteran insurance should Kelvin Sheppard or Nigel Bradham get hurt or see their progress falter. Barnett’s game is better than a pair of former New York Jets linebackers many think Buffalo may take a look at post-draft; Bart Scott and Calvin Pace.
Meanwhile, many players the Bills either released or allowed to hit free agency have now caught on with other teams. Kyle Moore signed a one-year deal with the Chicago Bears yesterday. On Monday the Cleveland Browns signed wide receiver David Nelson. Fellow wide receiver Donald Jones grabbed a three-year deal from New England last month. Guard Chad Reinhart signed with San Diego early in free agency and of course, Andy Levitre earned a monster contract from Tennessee.