AP source: Lotulelei intends to sign 5-year deal with Bills

(AP Photo/Mike McCarn, File)


Associated Press

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) Star Lotulelei's familiarity with Bills coach Sean McDermott has the former Carolina Panthers defensive tackle heading to Buffalo once the NFL's free agency period opens.

A person familiar with the situation confirmed to The Associated Press on Tuesday that the fifth-year player reached an agreement to sign a five-year contract with the Bills. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the signing won't become official until the NFL's business year opens on Wednesday.

The agreement was first reported by ESPN.com.

Lotulelei was a five-year starter with Carolina after being selected by the Panthers in the first round of the 2013 draft out of Utah. The native of Tonga is listed at 6-foot-3 and 311 pounds, and fills an immediate hole on Buffalo's defensive front.

Buffalo traded defensive tackle Marcell Dareus to Jacksonville in October, and veteran starter Kyle Williams' future remains uncertain. Williams is unsigned and has also contemplated the possibility of retiring.

Lotulelei is reunited with McDermott, who was the Panthers defensive coordinator before taking over in Buffalo in January 2017. Bills general manager Brandon Beane is also familiar with Lotulelei and played a role in drafting him after previously serving as the Panthers assistant GM.

Buffalo's defensive front seven has numerous needs with starting linebackers Preston Brown and Ramon Humber eligible to become free agents. The Bills finished 26th in yards allowed and gave up 140 or more yards rushing eight times, including a 10-3 loss to Jacksonville in the AFC wild-card playoff game.

Lotulelei has forced two fumbles and has 11 1/2 sacks in 76 career games, and was named to the NFL all-rookie team in 2013.

His future in Carolina was uncertain after the Panthers signed defensive tackle Kawann Short to a five-year, $80 million contract extension last offseason, and also used a first-round pick to draft Vernon Butler last year.

Lotulelei's addition is the latest bold move made by Beane in reshaping Buffalo's roster since being hired in May to replace Doug Whaley.

Beane has already completed two trades over the past week in dealing quarterback Tyrod Taylor to Cleveland and sending starting offensive tackle Cordy Glenn to Cincinnati . Buffalo moved up nine spots in the first round by acquiring the Bengals' selection, 12th overall, as part of the Glenn trade.

The deals continued strengthening Buffalo's bid to consider selecting one of several highly regarded quarterback prospects in the first round of the draft next month. The Bills have two picks in each of the first three rounds, including the 22nd selection.

The overhaul comes despite the Bills coming off a 9-7 season in which they ended a 17-season playoff drought.


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Updated March 13, 2018