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ORCHARD PARK – The Buffalo Bills ranked 29th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game in 2017. When the new league year opens tomorrow, they will have already taken a major step towards changing that next season.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, former Panthers DT Star Lotulelei will have agreed to join the Bills on a five-year deal, which will become official when free agency begins at 4 pm tomorrow. The team cannot confirm the deal until that time. To this point no financial details of the contract have been provided.
Former Panthers’ DT Star Lotulelei intends to sign a 5-year deal with the Buffalo Bills when free agency opens, source tells ESPN.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 13, 2018
Lotulelei has been linked to Buffalo throughout the offseason given his familiarity with and early-career success in Sean McDermott 4-3 defense down in Carolina. McDermott served as the 28-year-old’s defensive coordinator for each of the first four years of his career between 2013-2016. During that time, Bills general manager Brandon Beane was serving as the Panthers assistant general manager as well.
During his rookie season, Lotulelei posted some impressive numbers under McDermott, compiling 34 total tackles, including three sacks. His production has dipped in each year since, however, he’s still considered an effective space-eater along the defensive line, something the Bills lost upon trading Marcell Dareus in the middle of last season.
Lotulelei’s presence in the middle of the defense will help keep linebackers clean at the next level, solidifying their run defense. Over the course of his five-year career, Lotulelei has missed just five regular-season games and played in every contest for Carolina these last two seasons.
The signing of Lotulelei shouldn’t necessarily rule out a return for fan favorite Kyle Williams just yet. Should Williams decide against retiring or signing elsewhere, he’d carry role than the newest member of the Bills D-line.