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Updated 2:51 p.m. ET on Monday, Feb. 11
The Bills released veterans LB Nick Barnett and SS George Wilson on Monday, the team announced.
“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. “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.”
“I was told I’ll be released today by the Buffalo Bills. Thanks to all the great fans and friends I have met in Western New York,” Barnett said on his Twitter. “It was truly a pleasure being apart of that organization and culture. Very unfortunate we didn’t get the Bills to the playoffs but I know you guys will have many successful years ahead of you.”
Barnett signed with the Bills in 2011 after spending the first eight seasons of his career with the Packers. He started every game the last two seasons, totaling 242 tackles, five sacks, six passes defensed and four forced fumbles.
Barnett, 31, was due $3.5 million in base salary in 2013.
Wilson, a team captain, had been with the Bills since entering the league in 2005. He became a full-time starter in 2011 and started every game in 2012. Wilson leaves Buffalo with 412 career tackles and 12 interceptions, including four in 2011. Wilson was set to make $2.9 million in base salary in 2013.
The way we see it
Barnett was a leader for the defense and a tackle machine the past two seasons, but this is Mike Pettine's defense now and he clearly wants to go another direction — and the financial part of it had to be a factor as well. Linebacker was already a "need" position for the Bills, and is more so now with Barnett sent packing. It'll be interesting to see if the Bills look at the Jets' potential cap casualties, which are expected to include some of Pettine's former linebackers.
Wilson was one of the most respected players in the Bills' locker room, but he had started to split snaps with SS Da'Norris Searcy last season, who is likely in line to start in 2013. The Bills will need to add another safety and their top priority still must be re-signing FS Jairus Byrd.