While the last coaching staff thought very highly of Searcy, the former fourth-round pick, there's no telling what Doug Marrone and Mike Pettine will do with the starting strong safety job just yet.
Of the safeties, the one certainty (kind of), is that Jairus Byrd will be back. By slapping the franchise tag on him, the Bills will conceivably have him for 2013 at least. Past him, there are a lot of questions.
Perhaps the Bills will look to an old friend from long ago to factor in to the team's starting lineup. That man could be Jim Leonhard.
Let's take a look at both the case for, and against the Bills signing Leonhard.
The Case For Jim Leonhard
From the way we've seen both the Baltimore Ravens and the New York Jets operate over the time that Mike Pettine was a part of them, the defensive backs played a very important role. After finding his way in to the starting lineup in 2008 with Baltimore, Jim Leonhard was part of the Baltimore brigade that left the Ravens for the greener pastures of New Jersey.
Leonhard knew the defense. He knew the terminology. Most importantly, he knew the defensive coaching staff. These are three very important factors, and ones that the Bills might finding themselves looking at when the free agency period opens up on Tuesday.
Leonhard spent four seasons with Mike Pettine, starting all of them. If they do like Searcy as much as the last coaching staff did, a player like Leonhard could be the type of player to start while the former learns all the different nuances of the defense.
Adding to it all is both Leonhard's familiarity with the Bills, having spent his first three seasons in Buffalo, as well as an expected salary that's much lower than some of the top-tier free agents at the position.
Leonhard and Buffalo could be a solid fit.
The Case Against Jim Leonhard
At the age of 30, Leonhard could present some problems if the team needs him to start every single game.
Suffering a similar injury to former Bills cornerback Terrence McGee, Leonhard suffered a torn patellar tendon in 2011. It kept him away from signing with a team until the first week of August, when he proved he could still move on the injury.
Spending last season with Denver, Leonhard appeared in all 16 games with the Broncos. Although he started one game during 2012, Leonhard managed only 18 tackles. He did return 15 punts on the season, however, averaging over three yards lower than his career average.
With his injury the explosion could be gone and he could be a liability on the field, even if his mind is perfect for what Mike Pettine wants to do on defense. It would be a risk to put him on the field in critical situations, and one that could cost them if he's not able to regain his old form.
Will They or Won't They?
Despite the concerns over injury, Jim Leonhard is someone that Pettine knows very well. Having that sort of knowledge in a secondary that will all be learning on the job is something the Bills prefer when free agency gets here. With the amount of spots the Bills need to address this off-season, Leonhard's expected salary would likely be a fit for what they're trying to do this season. I would expect the Bills to look at Leonhard when free agency opens up.