With the free-agent signing period approaching, we'll take a closer look at each of the Buffalo Bills' free agents, finding the closest matches in last offseason's free-agent class:
Pending Bills free agent: Alex Carrington
Position: Defensive lineman
Experience: 4 seasons
2013 stats: 3 games played (3 starts), 10 tackles
2013 snaps: 14.3 percent (defense), 3.1 percent (special teams)
Last offseason's closest match: Jarius Wynn
Experience: 4 seasons (entering 2013)
2012 stats: 7 games (0 starts), 6 tackles, two sacks, one pass defensed (for Tennessee)
2012 snaps: 11 percent (defense), 2.5 percent (special teams)
Signed with: San Diego Chargers
Contract: 1 year, $30,000 signing bonus, $745,000 base salary
Overview: Wynn was a sixth-round pick of the Packers in 2009, playing sparingly his first two seasons. His best season came in 2011, when he recorded 19 tackles, two sacks, and one forced fumble in 16 games (including four starts). Still, he wasn't able to crack the Packers' 53-man roster the next season and was a late-season pickup by the Titans. He turned that opportunity into a free-agent deal last spring with the Chargers but was cut after five games.
Last offseason's second-closest match: Alan Branch
Experience: 6 seasons (entering 2013)
2012 stats: 16 games (16 starts), 29 tackles, one sack, one pass defensed (for Seattle)
2012 snaps: 55.9 percent (defense), 12.6 percent (special teams)
Signed with: Buffalo Bills
Contract: 1 year, $3 million
Overview: Branch, a former second-round pick, never settled into a permanent role with the Arizona Cardinals. His best two seasons came in Seattle, earning him a one-year, "prove-it" type deal from the Bills last spring. When an injury ended Carrington's season, Branch slid into his spot and started the final 13 games of the season. That earned the 325-pounder a three-year extension in December.
Verdict: Carrington's injury last September throws a wrench into his valuation on the market this spring. The Bills could argue that Carrington deserves a deal like Wynn's -- small money for a player who has yet to prove himself in the NFL. Wynn's best season (in 2011) and Carrington's best season (in 2012) are close parallels. Carrington had 19 tackles and two sacks; Wynn had 19 tackles and three sacks. Wynn is slightly smaller but the belief is that both players are best suited as defensive ends in a 3-4 defense. Meanwhile, Carrington's side will argue that he was off to a great start last season and that the injury prevented him from fulfilling his potential in the Bills' defense. Had he played a full season, Carrington may have put up numbers similar to Branch in 2012. It's unclear how Carrington will fit into Jim Schwartz's defensive scheme, so it's hard to pin down how the Bills might value him. However, the most likely scenario is that a team projects Carrington as a potential starter within their defense and offers him a deal somewhere in between Branch's and Wynn's.