Familiar faces on defense continue to re-sign with the Bills. Following the team’s moves to retain Jordan Phillips and Shaq Lawson, A.J. Klein will remain in the fold.
The veteran linebacker agreed to terms Monday on a one-year deal that will give him another shot in Buffalo. Klein, who has enjoyed two stints with the Bills, finished last season with the team. Though, Klein enjoyed a complex route back to Western New York.
Thirteen months ago, the Bills released Klein from the three-year, $18MM contract he signed in 2020. The former Saints starter remained out of the league to start the season but resurfaced in October and proceeded to take a four-city tour over the next six weeks. The Giants added Klein to their practice squad in October; the Ravens poached him three days later. Klein began his 2022 game work with Baltimore, suiting up for two contests, but the Ravens included him in their Roquan Smith trade. The Bears then used Klein in two contests but waived him, leading the former Luke Kuechly backup back to Buffalo to finish out the season.
The contingent of ex-Panthers on the Bills’ roster has thinned, given the time that has passed since Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane were with the NFC South team. But Klein is still going. The former Panthers fifth-round pick will attempt to play an 11th NFL season. Both the Bills and Ravens used Klein as a one-game starter last year.
Klein, 31, started 15 games for the Bills on his original contract with the team; he has made 82 starts during the course of his career. Klein finished with 75 tackles and five sacks for the 2020 Bills, who began the franchise’s three-year streak of AFC East titles, but played just 29% of Buffalo’s defensive snaps a year later. He logged just 104 defensive snaps last season but was a Bills regular on special teams.
Buffalo lost five-year starter Tremaine Edmunds in free agency but still rosters Matt Milano, Tyrel Dodson, 2022 third-rounder Terrel Bernard and veteran special-teamer Tyler Matakevich. Klein will likely factor into the competition for a second-string role as the Bills begin their offseason work.