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Star Lotulelei released by the Buffalo Bills

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Defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, who played collegiately at the University of Utah, was released by the Buffalo Bills.

Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Star Lotulelei (98) runs onto the field for an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Jacksonville, Fla., Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021. Lotulelei, who played collegiately at the University of Utah, was released by the Bills.

Gary McCullough, Associated Press

Star Lotulelei is hitting the open market after the Buffalo Bills released the veteran defensive tackle Friday.

The former Utah Utes standout had spent the past four seasons in Buffalo, starting 40 games for the Bills during that stretch.

Now the 32-year-old, who also played at Snow College and Bingham High, will be looking for his third team since entering the league as a first-round draft pick by the Carolina Panthers in 2013.

Bills revamping defensive line: Lotulelei’s release wasn’t a surprise after Buffalo signed three free agent defensive tackles earlier this week in DaQuan Jones, Tim Settle and Jordan Phillips. 

While all three players are veterans like Lotulelei — each has played four or more years in the league — all three are younger than the former Utah star, with only Jones in his 30s.

Financial implications: Buffalo created $1.5 million in cap space by releasing Lotulelei, but will take a dead salary cap hit of $7.7 million, according to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.  

Lotulelei originally signed with the Bills in 2018 as a free agent on a five-year, $50 million contract, a deal that was restructured two years ago to reduce his base salary but made it fully guaranteed, per ESPN’s Field Yates.

What Lotulelei accomplished in Buffalo: Lotulelei had 53 tackles and five sacks during his time with the Bills, and opted out of the 2020 season because of COVID-19. 

While he was a full-time starter and never missed a game his first two seasons in Buffalo, he missed time last season due to injuries and started just eight games on the year.

He had the first postseason sack of his career in the Bills’ playoff win over New England in January.