Buffalo Bills Rumors: Team could pursue D.J. Reader in free agency

According to a report by Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, the Buffalo Bills could pursue defensive tackle D.J. Reader.

The Buffalo Bills have one defensive tackle, Jordan Phillips, who is about to hit free agency and should parlay a strong 2019 season into a big contract. However, the team may be looking to spend their money on another free agent defensive tackle this offseason.

According to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, the Buffalo Bills are expected to be one of three teams that will be interested in defensive tackle D.J. Reader. He wrote:

Reader is one of the stoutest and most versatile defensive linemen in the game as he’s capable of lining up all over the line of scrimmage. At 6-4, 337 pounds, Reader plays with a lot of power and athleticism and has sound technique. He may be too expensive for the Texans to retain and is expected to command an annual compensation of $11 million to $13 million. The Denver Broncos, Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills are among the teams interested in Reader, according to league sources not authorized to speak publicly.

D.J. Reader was a fifth round pick by the Houston Texans in 2016 and in 61 career games has 154 total tackles and 6.5 sacks. He ranked as the 32nd best free agent this offseason by Pro Football Focus.

Nose tackles upwards of 330 pounds aren’t as desirable as they used to be, so the good news is that D.J. Reader has been able to show that he is more than just a two-down run stuffer. Reader has played more snaps with each season of his NFL career and answered that increased workload with more pressures as a pass-rusher. This year he posted career-best marks in overall PFF grade (85.5), total pressures (36) and defensive stops (35), and he played over 600 snaps for the Texans. Reader will draw interest as a run stuffer, but he has proved that he can push the pocket and play on passing downs too, which is vital for his value.

If Wilson is correct in the fact that Reader is expected to receive an annual salary between $11 and $13 million, the expectation would be that he would be more than a run stuffer for this Bills’ defense. While he may not rack up the sack totals that Jordan Phillips did, he has some pass rushing ability to compliment his play against the run.

If the Buffalo Bills were to add D.J. Reader to this defense, he would step in as the starter alongside Ed Oliver. However, the coaching staff could create some interesting combinations outside of those. They could essentially go heavy with D.J. Reader and Star Lotulelei to stop the run, or elect for more of a speed rush with Oliver and Harrison Phillips, who is returning from an ACL injury this past season.

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While Jordan Phillips had an excellent season for the Buffalo Bills this past year, if the team was able to add a player like D.J. Reader, it would have to be considered an upgrade at the defensive tackle position.

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