It’s no secret that Tremaine Edmunds is playing well this season. It seems that the two-time Pro Bowler can finally excel with a much-improved defensive line in front of him. Playing his own brand of high-velocity, physical football, Edmunds has proven himself worthy of a fat contract, which he can expect very soon. Will it be with the Buffalo Bills?
The Tremaine Edmunds Story So Far
For the first four years of his career, Tremaine Edmunds has been a critical part of this defense. His role on the field has been larger than any other single defender, and the amount of ground he’s asked to cover week-in and week-out in astronomical. He masked a lot of issues but, as a result, he was made into a convenient scapegoat.
When Edmunds covers half the field to get to a wide-open ball carrier but doesn’t prevent the first down, he’s vilified. Allowing a first down defensively is always a bad thing, but the responsibility isn’t always on Edmunds. Oftentimes, he has to fly to the ball to fix the coverage error of a different player. Sometimes, he has to lose the glory to hold up a runner by the shoestrings until a second player can make the tackle. It’s not a mark against his game to be the guy narrowly missing on an incredible play. More often than not, that interference alone is a massive benefit to our defense.
A Career Year
Maybe you’ve noticed (or maybe you haven’t), but Tremaine Edmunds passes the eye test now. He looks more consistent, finding gaps in blocking faster to get to the ball carrier, and his lateral movement has been significantly looser. His fluid play is a sharp step from the rookie we saw, executing the fundamentals and finding his groove.
Since the massive improvement to our defensive line this offseason, Tremaine Edmunds has been freed to play the game his way. Those watching Edmunds’ role change since he was drafted know that he’s developed a great deal. His command of this defense has only become more nuanced since 2018. With him playing on his rookie contract’s fifth-year option right now, we need to iron out a path to keeping him for the long haul.
Deal Or No Deal?
Brandon Beane was willing to take that $12.7M cap hit this season. The Buffalo Bills could expect to sign him for less against the cap on a future deal. Projected by Spotrac to earn up to a 5-year, $79M deal in March, Edmunds’ average annual value is expected to be in the $14-16M range. The yearly cap hits can comfortably be negotiated down to the $9-11M range, to minimize impact on roster construction.
Will it be with the Buffalo Bills? There are plenty of tough decisions to make this upcoming season. Edmunds, Jordan Poyer, Devin Singletary, and others could hit free agency. Who can we afford to keep? A worthy investment would be buying into a monstrous middle linebacker with five seasons of starting experience in your scheme who’s only 24 years old and playing the best football of his career.
Lining up next to Matt Milano makes Edmunds look expendable at times, but he isn’t. The anchor to the defense is what allows Milano to play so freely. With a less formidable teammate, we couldn’t expect the same level on play from our lone starting outside linebacker.
The Need For Immediate Action
Committing to key pieces of this team now, instead of having to worry about them in March is crucial. Cementing the key areas of the team means that, from one year to the next, we only have small issues to deal with, which can be game-planned for. With the bye week upon us, and the trade deadline closing in, there’s a lot of work to be done to solidify this Super Bowl-calibre roster.
By getting these extensions done early, we can set the market. Brandon Beane has done it with Tre’Davious White, Dion Dawkins, Josh Allen, Matt Milano, and others. Acting quickly means these players get good money, and we preserve cap space and flexibility. The average cost rises and our deals look good a year later. The only issue with extending early is giving the wrong guy a pay day… Tremaine Edmunds is not the wrong guy.
Though we may want to make moves for extra talent/depth to get us a Super Bowl, we understand this isn’t our last chance. By solidifying key pieces of this team and focusing on youth, we keep our window open to compete for multiple rings. Dream big, Bills Mafia. Extend Tremaine Edmunds.
The Buffalo Bulletin on Buffalo Fanatics is a weekly editorial by Iestyn Harris. Check back regularly for hot topics, riveting discussion, and, occasionally, some actual insight.
Featured Image: AP Photo/Michael Reaves