Just call them the Carolina Panthers North.
The Buffalo Bills have brought in another former Panther when they agreed to sign defensive tackle Star Lotulelei to a 5-year deal once free agency opens, according to ESPN.
Lotulelei's play has fallen off in recent years, but the familiarity with Bills head coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane — who were in Carolina when they drafted Lotulelei — clearly carried a lot of weight.
The Bills' depth at defensive tackle, among other positions, appeared to be severly lacking. They currently had only three players (Adolphus Washington, Marquavius Lewis and Rickey Hatley) under contract before Kyle Williams agreed to re-sign on a one-year deal to play another season at age 34.
The Bills had created more than $15 million in salary-cap space in trading away QB Tyrod Taylor and left tackle Cordy Glenn in recent days. Clearly, the offense needs major retooling at those positions now. But the run defense was hideous last season — they allowed a league-worst 18 rush TDs and a whopping 1,487 rush yards — after the team dealt away Marcell Dareus to the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 8.
Lotulelei, 28, is a former first-round pick and Pro Bowl selection. In his career, he has started 75 of 76 games, with 88 tackles, 11.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. Lotulelei is considered a good run stopper but has been overshadowed by Kawann Short in terms of playmaking ability.
The Panthers expect to turn to 2016 first-round DT Vernon Butler as Lotulelei's replacement.