ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) - The makeover is underway for the Bills roster, with Buffalo releasing veterans George Wilson and Nick Barnett this afternoon.
Those were Buffalo's two leading tacklers last season for a defensive unit that ranks among the worst in franchise history in terms of points allowed.
Wilson has been with the Bills for his entire career. He started out as a wide receiver, but found success on the defensive side of the ball after converting to the safety position. Wilson served as a team captain for the last five seasons - four on special teams and one on defense.
This past season, he started splitting time with up-and-coming safety Da'Norris Searcy.
Barnett spent two seasons with the Bills, starting every game at linebacker over that span. His release is officially listed as a "failed physical" on the NFL transaction report.
Via twitter, Barnett posted the following message: "Thanks to all the great Fans and friends I have met in Western New York.. It was Truly a pleasure being apart (sic) of that organization and culture.. Very unfortunate we didn't get the Bills to the playoffs but I know you guys will have many successful years ahead of you. Thanks
# billsmafia for all your support."
Bills general manager Buddy Nix commented on the decision through an official team press release.
“Moves like the ones we’ve made today are never easy, but we have to do what’s best for our team and keep moving forward. We’ve got some good young players on our roster who we feel are ready to take the next step and they will now have the opportunity to do so. We thank both Nick and George for everything they’ve given the Bills organization and wish them nothing but the best for the future.”
With the Bills not offering wide receiver Donald Jones a new contract, that makes three starters who will not be back in 2013.