Countdown to Training Camp: Mario Addison projects as 12th Most Valuable Bill

The veteran defensive end is a late bloomer who can still get it done at an advanced age.
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Patience and perseverance paid off for defensive end Mario Addison after an uneven start to what looked for the longest time like a journeyman career.

Consider that he has played 10 seasons, with 44 of his 60.0 career sacks coming in the last five.

Yet he heads into his 11th season under a cloud of uncertainty.

One of the many players the Buffalo Bills imported from coach Sean McDermott's former team, the Carolina Panthers, Addison didn't have the impact they were counting on when they signed him to a three-year, $30.45 million contract before the start of last season.

Addison finished with 5.0 sacks, which was good enough to tie for the team lead but was his lowest total since 2013, when he was still feeling his way on his fourth NFL team.

An adjustment that voided his final year but made his 2021 salary guaranteed followed, making it unlikely the Bills will move on until after this coming season.

It also means they'll be counting on him to bounce back at age 34 and help the defense take down opposing quarterbacks more than it did in 2020.

Thus, Addison slides in at 12th on our day-by-day presentation leading up to training camp of the 30 projected Most Valuable Bills for 2021.

In the meantime, the Bills aren't taking any chances. They used their first two picks of the 2021 NFL Draft on defensive ends, taking Miami's Gregory Rousseau at No. 30 overall and Wake Forest's Carlos "Boogie" Basham at No. 61.

They also brought in another former Panther, Efe Obada, to compete with the rookies along with A.J. Epenesa, Jerry Hughes, Darryl Johnson and Mike Love for what will be four rotational spots each week.

What the Bills also are counting on is for veterans like Addison and Hughes to show some of their younger players the way before stepping aside and allowing them to take over in what is expected to be a transitional season on the defensive line.

Will it happen the way they envision?

How this question is answered could go a long way toward determining whether the Bills will be able to take the next step and get to the Super Bowl after falling one game short last season.

Nick Fierro is the publisher of Bills Central. Check out the latest Bills news at www.si.com/nfl/bills and follow Fierro on Twitter at @NickFierro. Email to Nicky300@aol.com.