The Buffalo Bills doubled down at linebacker Wednesday.
The team reached agreement on a one-year contract with former Houston Texans linebacker Tyrell Adams in the early afternoon, then just before the dinner hour added former Las Vegas Raiders linebacker Marquel Lee, also on a one-year deal.
Lee, 25, was selected by the Raiders in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL Draft and spent his first three seasons with the team. After being released by Las Vegas in August because of a failed physical, he missed all of the 2020 season because of injury. He was placed on the physically unable to perform list after failing his physical at the start of training camp and waived with an injury settlement days later.
In an injury-riddled career, Lee has played 34 games with 19 starts, posting 85 tackles, six tackles for a loss and three quarterback hits. He was limited to five games in 2019 (making five tackles, including one for a loss) after appearing in all 16 games in 2018 with 58 tackles, three tackles for a loss, three quarterback hits and three passes defensed. As a rookie out of Wake Forest in 2017, he played in 13 games with 22 tackles and two tackles for loss. He also has been a regular contributor on special teams, with 14 tackles.
The additions of Lee and Adams give the Bills some veteran depth options behind presumed starters Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano. The Bills also return A.J. Klein, Tyrel Dodson, Tyler Matakevich and Andre Smith from last year's roster.
For Adams, it's a second chance with the Bills. He was originally claimed off waivers by the team in 2017, but failed his physical and was released a day later.
The 28-year-old had made a free-agent visit to the Bills on Tuesday, setting the stage for his reunion. Adams is coming off the best season of his five-year career. he played in all 16 games with 12 starts last season for Houston, stepping into the starting lineup after linebacker Benardrick McKinney suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. Adams finished with 122 tackles (12th in the NFL), two sacks, four passes defensed, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Against Detroit on Thanksgiving, Adams had 17 tackles and two forced fumbles. Playing alongside linebacker Zach Cunningham, who led the NFL with 164 tackles, Adams proved to be an aggressive hitter -- despite being listed at just 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds -- for the Houston defense. Texans interim head coach Romeo Crennel was a big fan of Adams' game.
“He has gone in and he has done a good job for us running from sideline to sideline making those tackles,” Crennel said of Adams in December. “The effort that he puts in, the way that he goes about his job that allows him to make those plays. It says a tremendous amount about him.”
Adams played in nine other games for Houston over the previous two seasons and also appeared in 12 games for the Raiders. He’s also spent time with the Seahawks, Chiefs, Colts and 49ers, but has not played in a regular-season game for those teams. Thus, it's fair to say it's been a long road for Adams in establishing himself as a regular NFL player.
Since entering the league out of Division II West Georgia in 2015, Adams has been involved in nearly 30 NFL transactions. Although the Texans ran a 3-4 defense, Adams believes he's versatile enough to fit into a 4-3 scheme, like the Bills run (and like he played in with the Seahawks and Colts).
"Playing in a 4-3 gives me the ability to move and real excel physically," he told the Houston Chronicle in February. “I play smarter and quicker than most guys, and I’m good in zone and man coverage. Coming downhill and playing really physical, adding that to my repertoire, I’m an all-around linebacker. I’m pretty well-versed in all aspects of being a complete linebacker. I can run and get to the ball."