The Buffalo Bills were quiet in free agency through the first week, but since then it’s been anything but quiet at One Bills Drive.
Buffalo had already secured the rights to six unrestricted free agents (excluding Leonard Hankerson) heading into Monday, but the team decided to add to that number Tuesday as it signed veteran linebacker Lorenzo Alexander and safety Colt Anderson to undisclosed deals.
The pair of roster moves has all signs pointing to the Bills making a conscientious effort to improve a special teams unit that underperformed (for the most part) compared to what it was in 2014.
Combined, Alexander and Anderson have totaled 105 career tackles on special teams alone and should help soften the blow created by losses to core special-teamers like Ron Brooks, Boobie Dixon and Leodis McKelvin.
Both players had free agent visits with the team April 8.
Signed by the Carolina Panthers as an undrafted free agent out of the University of California in 2005, Lorenzo Alexander spent the first year and a half of his career bouncing between practice squads in Carolina, Baltimore and Washington before getting his shot on the Redskins’ active roster in 2007.
Making his NFL debut in Week 5 of the 2007 season, the 6-foot-2-inch, 245-pound linebacker became a main stay in Washington as he remained with the Redskins all the way through the 2012 season.
After struggling to find a natural position to start his career, having played tight end, offensive guard, fullback, defensive tackle and defensive end in his first couple of years, Alexander finally found a home at linebacker.
The former Cal Bear has since appeared in 127 games (16 starts) and totaled 192 career tackles (132 solo, 60 assists), nine sacks, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and six pass breakups.
He has particularly shined on special teams, earning a Pro Bowl nod in that role with the Redskins in 2012 after he posted a career-high 31 tackles while on coverage units.
Alexander finished with 46 total tackles and 2.5 sacks that season.
Following his Pro-Bowl campaign in 2012, the soon to be 33-year-old moved on to Arizona where he spent two seasons with the Cardinals, totaling 17 tackles in just 19 games while playing primarily on special teams. Alexander played just three games in 2013 after suffering a season-ending foot injury.
Arizona cut the linebacker on Aug. 31 of last season, but Alexander was picked up by the Raiders on Sept. 2 and played all 16 games of the 2015 season for Oakland, totaling 13 tackles along the way.
How does Lorenzo Alexander Fit?
The Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee for the Redskins in 2010 and 2011, Lorenzo Alexander has been named a team captain five times (Redskins, 2010-2012; Cardinals 2013-2014) throughout his career.
Proving he is versatile on the field and a leader in the locker room time and time again, the veteran linebacker should instantly bolster the Bills’ special teams unit simply by providing stability.
Alexander has displayed his worthiness of a roster spot throughout his well-traveled career, and he could should show head coach Rex Ryan and special teams coordinator Danny Crossman that he’s deserving of a spot in Orchard Park if he can be an extension of Crossman on the field.
If the former Raider can get even remotely close to what he was in Washington through his first six seasons, then Buffalo might have found something valuable late in free agency with Alexander.
At the very least, he’ll provide solid competition to a special teams room that is in dire need of depth.
Undrafted out of Montana, Anderson was signed by the Minnesota Vikings following the 2009 NFL Draft and spent most of his first two seasons on Minnesota’s practice squad before being signed to the Philadelphia Eagles’ active roster in November 2010.
Anderson, who has totaled 104 tackles (89 solo, 15 assists), two forced fumbles, four pass breakups and one interception in his career, spent four seasons in Philadelphia while making a large impact on special teams.
From there, the former Montana standout went on to join the Indianapolis Colts, where he has spent the past two seasons.
The 5-foot-10-inch, 195-pound safety totaled 33 tackles (24 solo, 9 assists) while with the Colts, playing predominately on special teams.
Despite his accomplishments as a special-teamer, Anderson is widely known for his involvement in the infamous gaffe the Colts had against the New England Patriots last October during a fake punt attempt on 4th-and-3 with 1:14 to go in the third quarter.
The former Colt will turn 31 on Oct. 25.
How does Colt Anderson fit?
All jokes aside, Anderson has actually been a solid special teams contributor during his six-year career with the Eagles and Colts.
The defensive back has started just seven games in the 77 games he’s appeared in, but that’s obviously not going to be his role.
He’ll come in and compete for a spot on Danny Crossman’s group and, knowing the team’s views on the importance of having quality special teams, Anderson has a shot of sticking around if he can provide a spark to that unit.
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