Defensive tackle was to have been a position of strength for the Buffalo Bills in 2022. However, the depth chart has recently been decimated by injury.
As such, the Bills are in the market for help along the defensive line ... and they may turn to an old friend to get it.
According to an NFL source, Buffalo recently hosted free agent Justin Zimmer for a workout. The 29-year-old played 18 games for the Bills over the past two seasons, quickly becoming a fan favorite.
The 6-3, 300-pound lineman was limited to just six games in 2021 after suffering a torn ACL in a Week 6 matchup with the Tennessee Titans. Prior to his injury, Zimmer had compiled eight tackles, four quarterback hits and one sack.
Though Zimmer entered the offseason as a restricted free agent, Buffalo failed to make him a contract offer. Since that time, he has remained an unrestricted free agent. Zimmer’s visit is believed to have been Buffalo’s way of assessing his recovery and determining his playing status.
Despite his unfortunate end to the 2021 season, Zimmer has remained a fan favorite, as well as highly-respected by the coaching staff.
“He just is Justin Zimmer,” coach Sean McDermott said of the defensive tackle when asked about him in 2021. “There’s just something about him. You can’t really put your finger on it. He’s one of the first ones out here to practice … Works his tail off. It’s to me no mistake why he’s had the success that he’s had and why this team respects him for who he is.”
Bills’ defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier also previously praised the Ferris State product by saying “He epitomizes what you look for in a football player.”
Zimmer forever endeared himself to the Bills’ fanbase during the 2020 season. He helped to seal a victory over the New England Patriots when he forced a fumble from New England quarterback Cam Newton. Buffalo was able to recover the ball and won the game 24-21, marking McDermott’s first victory over the Patriots as head coach.
While Zimmer has yet to be signed, he would be a welcome addition to the Buffalo’s defense. Starter Ed Oliver has missed two games due to an ankle injury while Tim Settle (calf) has missed one game. Jordan Phillips has missed one game to date with a hamstring injury and is unlikely to play in Week 4.
Buffalo will attempt to climb back into the win column on Sunday, as they travel to M&T Bank Stadium for a 1 p.m. kickoff against the Baltimore Ravens.