The Bills filled their first hole in free agency Monday night when the team reportedly signed linebacker AJ Klein.
The deal was first reported by ESPN’s Adam Caplan. Reportedly, it’s a three year contract worth $18 million dollars with $9.7 mil guaranteed.
Klein is another of the many who had a previous Carolina Panthers connection with Sean McDermott. He played for McDermott during the first four years of his career in Carolina from 2013-16.
Under McDermott, Klein was mostly a backup and a big time special teamer. He played over 60% of the Panthers’ special teams snaps during his first three seasons in the NFL.
Klein left the Panthers for a three year, $15 million dollar contract in New Orleans and became a regular starter on the Saints defense.
He played in 43 games with Saints in three seasons and accumulated 6.5 sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. Klein did continue to contribute on special teams, but snaps on that phase were less than 20% in 2017 and 2019.
Klein is, essentially, a replacement for Lorenzo Alexander. He’ll likely play primarily on run stop downs and could be a part of the Buffalo special teams. Alexander was on the field for less than 50% of the defensive snaps last year while Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano played nearly every one.
The Bills did also lose one free agent on Monday as defensive end Shaq Lawson reportedly signed in Miami. That contract is thought to be 3 years for as much as $36 million and $21 million guaranteed.