There was one time in his career when Nick Barnett was a cornerstone of the Green Bay Packers defense and looked like a guy who was going to finish his career in Lambeau. The former first round pick was smack dab in the middle of the Packers defense for the last eight years, but injuries took a toll on Barnett. After playing nearly every game in his first five years, Barnett finished two of his last three seasons on Injured Reserve and the Packers couldn’t rely on him anymore. Green Bay decided to part ways with Barnett and it didn’t take him long to find his new home in Buffalo.
With the Bills having lost Paul Posluzny in free agency, Buffalo needed to bring in another linebacker to replace him in the middle of the defense. At 30 years-old Barnett will have a fresh start in Buffalo and if he can find a way to stay off the trainer’s table, he could be exactly the kind of guy the Bills need to help guide their young defense.
Nick Barnett joined The Fan 590 in Toronto with Eric Smith to talk about how tough this offseason was for him in free agency, on getting a Super Bowl ring, whether or not he saw his release from the Packers coming, how many other teams wanted him in free agency, and what it means to him to be the veteran on a young defense.
How tough it was this offseason for him in free agency:
“The funny thing about this year is that teams didn’t have a lot of time to work these free agents. Of course they did their due diligence with seeing who was available but for me not knowing if I was going to be available or not it was just a chaos process. Luckily it worked out well for me. I found a home in a great place with great fans and so much potential. I’m excited about being here, excited about my home. Sad to leave Green Bay but that’s part of the business. Things happen. I spent eight years and you don’t see a lot of people doing that in this day and age in the NFL. I’m excited to have accomplished that but it’s time to move on and be a part of this Bills’ mafia.”
On getting a Super Bowl ring and bringing that kind of mentality to Buffalo:
“Definitely glad I was able to get a ring before I left. There were a couple of guys that left the year before and then we ended up going to the Super Bowl so I was glad to be able to get a ring there and now it’s time to move on and try to get another ring with another team and a different family. I’m excited about that and I’m excited to play some games in Toronto. I have never been to Canada and I hear Toronto is the place to go so I’m excited to go there. My family will be out there to visit because we’ve never been up there. It’s kind of a blessing to be over here in Buffalo and kinda have that be so close to go over there and experience that place.”
Whether or not he saw his release from the Packers coming:
“Every year you know, this year definitely because I got hurt last year, you kinda have something and we kinda talked to them about the process of signing A.J. (Hawk) to that large of a deal and them signing (Desmond) Bishop we figured there would be some movement either with me (Brandon) Chillar, (Brady) Poppinga, or other linebackers as well. From me I always kept it positive and I was still a Packer at the time so I’m not just going to throw everything away until I have a conversation with them. It sucked with the lockout I couldn’t get things figured out before the lockout. I just had to go through it. I have no hard feelings, it is what it is, they wanted to go in a different direction with some younger players, and I was able to get in a fit where they needed a veteran here and I’m excited.”
How many other teams wanted to bring him in as a free agent:
“Well there was a couple of other teams out there and I had a couple of different offers to play for some teams and there were some teams out there with deals that were enticing, but when I came here and met with the players and the coaches, I’m so used to the small market and so used to that family feeling that this was just kinda where I wanted to go. The coaches made me feel welcome and the players made me feel welcome and it kinda was just a good fit for me as far as the defense goes and the coaching staff so it just kinda was the best fit for me and the best plan for my family. I’m excited to be here.”
How good it feels to be the veteran on a young Bills team:
“Yeah I mean definitely it does feel good to be a veteran. If anybody has questions for me I’m able to guide them and the young linebackers just kinda coach them through what they’ve gone through and that’s kinda the role you take as a veteran. You’re there to teach it and help and develop as well as play good, ball out, and be a leader. They go hand in hand.”