Bills make necessary change on defense

February, 11, 2013
2/11/13
2:55
PM ET
The first two dominoes on defense fell Monday for the Buffalo Bills. The team released starting linebacker Nick Barnett and safety George Wilson. Both were veteran leaders in Buffalo.

The film review of 2012 is most likely near completion for Buffalo's new coaching staff. Bills rookie head coach Doug Marrone and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine had to be appalled watching last season's run defense. Buffalo was 31st against the run, and Barnett and the entire front seven were pushed around way too often.

A major makeover at linebacker is needed, and cutting Barnett was the first move. Barnett recorded back-to-back seasons of at least 100 tackles. But too many of his stops were made seven and eight yards up the field.

Cutting Wilson was a little more surprising. But Jay Skurski of the Buffalo News points out that Wilson would count $2.925 million against the Bills' cap next year. This move appears to be mostly financial considering Wilson is an aging player.

With a new coaching staff, this may only be the start for Buffalo. The biggest decision for the Bills will be on the future of starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is due a $3 million roster bonus in March. The biggest cut may be yet to come.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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