The Buffalo Bills announced that they have resigned linebacker Andre Smith to a two-year deal. The deal is worth up to $3 million dollars per Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. Smith was a restricted free agent and even his lowest tender would have cost the Buffalo Bills a non-guaranteed $2 million dollars. This deal brings the core special teamer back to the Bills for below that rate.
The Bills traded with the Carolina Panthers late last pre-season to acquire the former 7th round pick. The deal makes sense because it is unlikely that Brandon Beane would want to give up on a player he invested capital in, but at a much lower rate than the RFA tender.
What does this move signal for the Bills? Nothing major. Smith played only 47 snaps on defense compared to 216 on special teams. He will likely assume that role again in 2021 and play linebacker in strictly emergency situations. At only 23 he could be a long-term project to replace AJ Klein as the 43 strong-side linebacker in base formations and on the goal line.
This was an important signing as the future of fellow linebacker and ACE special teamer Tyler Matakevich could be in doubt. A luxury the Bills could afford in 2020 if not restructured could become a cap casualty. Releasing Matakevich would save the Buffalo Bills over $3 million dollars with a reasonable 350k dead cap hit.