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Bills replenish defensive line by signing Austin Johnson and DeShawn Williams to 1-year deals

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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — The Buffalo Bills replenished their depleted defensive line needs by signing tackles Austin Johnson and DeShawn Williams to one-year contracts on Thursday.

The 29-year-old Johnson has eight seasons of NFL experience, including the past two with the Los Angeles Chargers where he started all 17 games last season. He’s listed at 6-foot-4 and 314 pounds and was selected by the Tennessee Titans in the second round of the 2016 draft.

Overall, Johnson has two forced fumbles, eight sacks and 17 tackles for a loss in 116 games, including 55 starts, which included a two-year stint with the New York Giants.

The 31-year-old Williams spent last season getting 10 starts in 16 games with Carolina in an NFL career that’s taken a circuitous route since being signed by the Cincinnati Bengals as an undrafted free agent in 2015.

After appearing in four games with the Bengals in 2016, Williams spent the next three years as a practice squad player with Denver, Miami and Indianapolis — plus a failed bid to play in the CFL once its 2020 season was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic — before resuming his NFL career with the Broncos in 2020. Overall, he has nine sacks, 11 tackles for losses and an interception in 66 games, including 44 starts.

The two begin shoring up a defensive front that lost regulars Linval Joseph, Tim Settle and Poona Ford to free agency, and with Jordan Phillips contemplating retirement.

Both are expected to fill backup roles behind Ed Oliver and DaQuan Jones, who is being reunited with Johnson after the two played at Penn State.

Speaking at the NFL owners meetings this week, general manager Brandon Beane re-emphasized the priority he places on his offensive and defensive fronts even it means cutting into the team’s limited salary cap space.

“We’re going to always look there. And if we’re going to stretch ourselves financially, that’s the spot I’m always going to do it,” Beane said. “I’m not going to ever hold back if it’s something that I think can get us over the top.”

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl

By JOHN WAWROW
AP Sports Writer

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