Star Lotulelei will sign with Buffalo Bills — NFL free agency

Carolina Panthers Star Lotulelei takes the field during defensive introductions before an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Charlotte N.C. Saturday Dec. 24 2016. The Falcons won 33-16

The longest-tenured player on Buffalo's roster will continue to hold that title for one more season.

The team will sign former Panthers defensive tackle Star Lotulelei to a five-year contract when the new league year begins Wednesday, a league source confirmed to The Buffalo News.

Defensive tackle was a big question mark for the Bills entering this offseason.

Williams, 34, will enter his 13th season in Buffalo after being selected in the fifth round of the 2006 draft.

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Soon after the Bills traded Marcell Dareus to the Jacksonville Jaguars last season, the run defense suffered.

Lotulelei's value isn't seen entirely in stats, considering he's tallied between 22 and 26 tackles in each of the last four years.

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. Meanwhile, Short, a 2013 second-round pick, accumulated 24.5 sacks over the past three seasons and parlayed that into a five-year, $80.5 million extension before last season.

Lotulelei, 28, has started 75 of 76 games in his career, with 141 tackles (83 solo), 11.5 sacks, five passes defensed, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

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