Bills Rumors: Veteran LB Could Return After Release From Bears

A.J. Klein

Getty A.J. Klein (#54) of the Buffalo Bills.

While the Buffalo Bills are planning to come back with a vengeance when they take on the Cleveland Browns in Week 11, their injury list on Wednesday, November 16, was frustratingly long, and with five players having to be sent home after coming down with an undisclosed illness, the team may need some reinforcements.

As luck would have it, former Bills linebacker A.J. Klein was released by the Chicago Bears on Wednesday, as first reported by ESPN‘s Jeremy Fowler, and‘s Matt Parrino suggested Buffalo take a look at bringing the 31-year-old back.

Parrino tweeted, “With [linebacker] Tremaine Edmunds banged up, I wonder if Buffalo thinks about getting him back in the mix in a depth role… I think it’s more about what they’ve already seen from Klein and his familiarity with the scheme and personnel. I don’t know that it would cost a ton but definitely a potential hold up.”

The 6-foot-1, 240-pound linebacker initially signed onto the New York Giants practice squad on October 3, but was plucked by the Baltimore Ravens to sign with their practice squad three days later. On October 31, the Ravens traded Klein, along with a second-round and fifth-round pick to the Bears in exchange for linebacker Roquan Smith, per Pro Football Talk.

The Bills’ defense is pretty banged up heading into Week 11. While Jordan Poyer (elbow) was upgraded to limited, Edmunds was not able to participate in practice on Wednesday due to a groin/heel injury, while linebacker Matt Milano, cornerback Cam Lewis, Jordan Phillips, and defensive tackle Tim Settle, were four of the five players sent home with an illness.

The Bills Initially Cut Klein Back in March

Back in March, the Bills announced they were releasing the veteran in order to clear up cap space. By cutting Klein, the Bills cleared up $5.1 million for the 2022 NFL season. At the time, Klein was entering the final year of his three-year, $18 million contract with the Bills. Over the last two seasons, the Carolina Panthers’ former fifth-round pick from the 2013 NFL Draft appeared in 31 games and made 15 starts, recording a total of 103 tackles, 5.0 sacks, and one interception.

While Klein was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance in Week 12 of the 2020 NFL season, the Iowa State alum’s contributions on the field took a stark dip last year, during which he had only four starts, and participated in just 29% of the team’s defensive snaps, per SB Nation, his lowest number (277 defensive plays) since his rookie season.

During Klein’s brief time in Chicago, he appeared in two games, participating in nine snaps on special teams and none of defense, per Bears reporter Larry Mayer. With the Ravens, he appeared in two games, recording a total of four solo tackles, per Pro Football Reference. If the Bills decide to pick him up, it will mark the 10-year NFL veteran’s fourth team in two months.

The Bills Currently Sit in Third Place in the AFC East

After a strong to the season, Bills quarterback Josh Allen is in a mid-season slump, and the team’s second-half performances over the past three games have been disastrous. However, Buffalo will look to get back in the win column when they host the Browns at Highmark Stadium on Sunday, November 20. Following two consecutive losses and a steep drop in the division, the Bills are still deemed 8.5-point favorites to win.

While Allen made several costly mistakes that directly led to the Bills’ 33-30 loss to the Minnesota Vikings in Week 10, it seems he’s listened to his teammate, two-time Super Bowl champ Von Miller’s inspiring message and agrees that there’s no reason for panic.

“Big picture, We’re 6-3. We’re not going to let us end and tear us apart in the locker room and we’re going to try and play some good football moving forward,” Allen said during an appearance on “Kyle Brandt’s Basement” on Tuesday.

“We don’t have to make this a bigger deal than it is. We want to win every single game, when we step out on the field, it’s our goal… and obviously, we haven’t done that in the last couple of weeks… It’s not like we’re not a bad team. We’ve been hurting ourselves a lot. If we can make smarter decisions, if we can play situational football and complimentary football, that’s all we gotta do.”

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