Here are some reactions to the Bills' signing of defensive end Mark Anderson on Wednesday.
The most noteworthy is from Greg Gabriel of the National Football Post. Gabriel drafted Anderson in 2006 when he was head of college scouting for the Chicago Bears.
Writes Gabriel: In Buffalo, Anderson should flourish. He will not be asked to play fulltime but rather in the same role as he played in New England. Playing opposite Mario Williams will help both him and Williams because the offense is going to have to pick their poison on passing downs. They won’t be able to double team both.
The move also gives the Bills added flexibility in the draft. Having signed two pass rushers in free agency they now have the luxury of drafting the proverbial “best available athlete.” Picking at 10, the Bills could go in any of several directions. They may be looking at a quality wide receiver, which they could use. They could draft probably the second-best corner in the draft (Dre Kirkpatrick) or they could choose to go offensive line (Riley Reiff). No matter what they decide to do, they have upgraded their team tremendously. You have to like the moves Buddy Nix is making in Buffalo
Patriots beat writer Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com acknowledges that Anderson is a loss for the Pats. However, he writes that this is just business as usual for New England, which is not about to overpay for a player who is not one of the team's core guys.
So now the Patriots hope that free-agent signing Trevor Scott (one year, $1.15 million) can do what Anderson did in 2011, and recapture some of the pass-rush burst from earlier in his career. Maybe 2011 sixth-round draft choice Markell Carter makes an impression, or perhaps veteran Andre Carter re-signs when healthy and continues to turn back the clock with a strong performance. Then there is always the draft, where the Patriots have multiple picks in the first and second round and could target a pass-rusher at one of those spots.
Sure, it hurts to lose two solid contributors, but with respect to both, this isn't in the same category as cornerback Asante Samuel's departure to Philadelphia in 2008 or defensive lineman Richard Seymour's trade to the Raiders in 2009
Jeff Howe of the New England Sports Network strikes a similar note: The Patriots have already added defensive linemen Jonathan Fanene and Trevor Scott in free agency, and there's still a good chance they retain Carter if he's healthy enough to contribute in 2012. And with six picks in the first three rounds of the draft, the Patriots will try to replace Anderson's production in that forum, too.
Point of information: Carter, who turns 33 in May, had 10 sacks in 14 games for the Pats before tearing a quadriceps muscle in mid-December. Scott, the University at Buffalo product, is a four-year veteran. He had no sacks in 2011 while playing about 16 snaps a game. He had 1.5 sacks while playing 10 full games (all starts) in 2010. He had 7 sacks in 2009 and 5 in 2008.
Meanwhile, ProFootballFocus.com had Anderson as New England's highest-rated pass rusher during the 2011 season and graded him as very consistent. He only had two sub-par games (Buffalo and Denver), according to the scouting site. The site rated Anderson as grading out 13th best in the league in 2011 among 4-3 defensive ends. The site actually gave him credit for 15 sacks (he had 12.5 officially), and 36 quarterback pressures while playing 47 percent of the snaps. By comparison, the site had Marcell Dareus as the Bills' leader in pressures with 24. Dareus played 723 snaps for the Bills, according to News figures. Anderson played 640 snaps for the Pats, according to ProFootballFocus.
Finally, here's a reaction from Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams: I think at the end of the day you can never have enough good players, No. 1. He’s been a productive guy every where you’ve seen him play. I’m glad to have him. ... We were in school at the same time. I remember playing him at Alabama when he was in school. We actually played at the Senior Bowl together. He’s a good pass rusher, tenacious guy that’s going to get after the quarterback. Like I said before, you can never have too many guys that can make plays, not just tackles here and there but guys that can get after the quarterback and create some things. You put him our room with all the guys we have now, he’s going to do good."