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|The Bills' defensive front quickly took shape Tuesday Womens Luke Kuechly Jersey , when Star Lotulelei agreed to sign with Buffalo, and Kyle Williams chose to return for a 13th season by saying the he never entertained any thought of retiring. A person familiar with the situation confirmed to The Associated Press that Lotulelei reached an agreement to sign a five-year contract with the Bills. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the signing the former Carolina Panthers starter won't become official until the NFL's business year opens on Wednesday.
The agreement was first reported by ESPN.
A few hours later, the Bills announced agreeing to a one-year, $6 million deal to re-sign Williams, who revealed his plan all along was to return.
"As eloquently as I can put it, I haven't exhausted myself in pursuit of what my dream is of playing this game, or playing for this organization and chasing being a champion," Williams said during a conference call. "Buffalo is my home. It's where I want to be. It's where I want to win. And I couldn't be more excited."
The moves bulk up Buffalo's defensive front by filling both tackle starting positions a day before the start of free agency.
Just as important, the Bills retained a steadying presence in their locker after losing veteran center Eric Wood, who was diagnosed with a career-ending neck injury in January.
Williams was an unquestioned leader on a patchwork, rebuilding team that exceeded expectations with a 9-7 record and ended a 17-season playoff drought. The 34-year-old is so highly regarded, coach Sean McDermott would grow emotional in discussing what the player meant to the team.
"It's hard not to gravitate toward a guy like that Marc-Andre Fleury Jersey , because of who he is as a person more so than anything," McDermott said of Williams in December. "How could you not like the way he plays and appreciate that, right?"
Williams returns to his familiar spot in the middle, which he's held since being selected in the fifth round of the 2006 draft. And he'll be playing alongside the 28-year-old Lotulelei, who takes over after Buffalo traded Marcell Dareus to Jacksonville in October.
"I'm all for bringing on as many good football players as we can," Williams said, referring to Lotulelei.
Listed at 6-foot-3 and 311 pounds, Lotulelei was a five-year starter with Carolina after being selected by the Panthers in the first round of the 2013 draft out of Utah.
The native of Tonga is reunited with McDermott, who was Panthers defensive coordinator before taking over in Buffalo in January 2017. Bills general manager Brandon Beane is also familiar with Lotulelei and played a role in drafting him after previously serving as Panthers assistant GM.
Lotulelei has forced two fumbles and has 11 1/2 sacks in 76 career games, and was voted to the NFL all-rookie team in 2013. His future in Carolina was uncertain after the Panthers signed defensive tackle Kawann Short to a five-year, $80 million contract extension last offseason, and also used a first-round pick for Vernon Butler last year.
Williams is a one-time All-Pro and five-time Pro Bowl selection. He showed no signs of slowing last year Brendan Leipsic Jersey Kids , with 41 tackles and three sacks in starting all 16 games. Overall, his 43 1/2 sacks are the most by a defensive tackle in franchise history.
Williams has no expectation of taking on a diminished role after leading Buffalo's defensive linemen by playing 758 snaps last year.
"I prepare myself to play as many as I possibly can because mentality-wise, I feel like we're a better football team when I'm on the field," he said. "I'm coming back to play. I'm not coming back to say, 'Oh, hey listen, I'll just play 25, 30 snaps a game and let you guys fight over the rest.'"
Buffalo's defensive front seven has numerous needs with starting linebackers Preston Brown and Ramon Humber eligible to become free agents. The Bills finished 26th in yards allowed and gave up 140 or more yards rushing eight times, including a 10-3 loss to Jacksonville in the AFC wild-card playoff game.
Lotulelei's addition is the latest bold move made by Beane in reshaping Buffalo's roster since being hired in May to replace Doug Whaley.
Beane has already completed two trades over the past week in dealing quarterback Tyrod Taylor to Cleveland and sending starting offensive tackle Cordy Glenn to Cincinnati. Buffalo moved up nine spots in the first round by acquiring the Bengals' selection, 12th overall, as part of the Glenn trade.
The deals continued strengthening Buffalo's bid for selecting one of several highly regarded quarterback prospects in the first round next month. The Bills have two picks in each of the first three rounds, including the 22nd selection.
Williams backed the moves.
"It goes back to really believing in and trusting what Brandon and Sean are doing Troy Apke Jersey ," Williams said. "I believe in their vision of what they've trying to build. And so for me, I'm on board with what they're doing."
Boston’s big hitters have consistently done the job this year, helping the Red Sox post the best record in the majors. It’s been a very different story for the Washington Nationals, and that’s been abundantly clear through the first two games of their interleague series.
Xander Bogaerts hit a three-run homer during a six-run fifth inning, J.D. Martinez and Eduardo Nunez also went deep, and Boston beat Washington 11-4 in sweltering conditions Tuesday.
”A lot of guys stepped up,” Bogaerts said. ”The weather’s not the best. It’s hot. It’s better than cold. A lot of guys swung at good pitches and had good at-bats.”
Martinez drove in four and leads the majors with 26 homers and 71 RBIs. Boston has won 17 of its last 19 interleague games, including 11 of its last 12.
Washington has lost four straight and 16 of 21 to fall to 42-42, its first time at .500 since it was 17-17.
”It’s hard to play from behind,” Washington manager Dave Martinez said. ”Our starting pitching right now is not giving the offense a chance. When we do try and make a run and come back, we got to have shutout innings. It’s not happening.”
Red Sox starter Brian Johnson allowed two runs in 4 2/3 innings. Brandon Workman (1-0) pitched a perfect seventh.
Boston scored first, opening the second with consecutive singles before Nunez homered into the left field bullpen off starter Tanner Roark (3-10). Mark Reynolds and Roark had RBI singles in the fourth to pull the Nationals within 3-2.
The Red Sox responded in the fifth Nico Hischier Jersey , collecting five consecutive singles before Bogaerts ripped Roark’s fastball to center to make it 9-2.
”We did a good job today against Roark,” Nunez said. ”I think he made a lot of mistakes up with the sinker and we took advantage.”
Brian Goodwin and Pedro Severino hit solo homers for Washington.
Roark allowed a career-high nine runs in seven innings and is 1-8 with a 5.19 ERA in 12 appearances (11 starts) since May 5.
”Other than two pitches I feel like they just base hit me to death, so what are you going to do?” Roark said.
Red Sox: 1B Mitch Moreland left in the third inning with back spasms and is day to day. ”I wasn’t planning on playing him tomorrow, so definitely he won’t play tomorrow now,” manager Alex Cora said. … LHP Drew Pomeranz (biceps tendinitis) allowed five runs in 2 2/3 innings Monday for Triple-A Pawtucket in his first rehab appearance since Boston placed him on the disabled list June 5. … 2B Dustin Pedroia (left knee inflammation) is likely to remain in New York all week for further testing.
Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg (shoulder inflammation) threw about 60 pitches Tuesday. Martinez said Strasburg’s next step could be a simulated game sometime this weekend. … Martinez said 1B Ryan Zimmerman (right oblique strain) could begin a rehab assignment this weekend. Zimmerman has not played since May 9.
ROSTER MOVE COMING
Cora said Boston will activate RHP Tyler Thornburg (shoulder surgery) on Wednesday. Thornburg was acquired from Milwaukee in December 2016 but has not pitched in the majors since. The Red Sox intend to send RHP William Cuevas to the minors. Cuevas allowed a run in two innings Tuesday in his first appearance with Boston this season.
NATS SIGN TOP PICK
Washington signed first-round pick Mason Denaburg on Tuesday. The right-hander was selected No. 27 overall out of Merritt Island High School in Florida in last month’s draft.
Red Sox: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (9-3, 4.11 ERA) faces Washington for the first time as the three-game interleague series concludes.
Nationals: RHP Erick Fedde (1-3, 6.00) is coming off his first career victory and gets the nod for Washington’s annual Independence Day morning start.
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