For 20 years, the Buffalo Bills were virtually unable to retain any of their high-quality draft picks, as decades of mediocrity weighed on the franchise. Since bringing in Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane in 2017, however, things have changed. This duo has brought an era of greatness to Buffalo, and the players agree. Consistently, they’ve been able to retain their selections, giving a contract extension to whichever players they choose to keep.
They’ve given fresh extensions to Tyler Bass and Ed Oliver in the last few months alone, with others certainly on the way. Who should they hope to retain? Who should they let go? From Gabriel Davis to Damar Hamlin, we’re looking at them all.
Note: All players mentioned will need to be entering their third season or later on a rookie deal. For veterans ready for contract extensions, click here.
Buffalo Bills 2020 Draft Picks
Note: These players are eligible for a contract extension.
DE A.J. Epenesa – Rd 2, 54th Overall
The Buffalo Bills’ de facto 2020 first round pick following the Stefon Diggs trade, Epenesa was an exciting prospect. As a pro, however, his career has been inconsistent. His impact wasn’t what the public expected, and though he’s rounded out well as a depth piece, he’s not the starter we’d hoped for.
Still, he put up 6.5 sacks last year with 10 QB hits, despite playing only 38% of defensive snaps. If he’s able to replicate that, he’ll earn an offer from the Bills front office.
Verdict: Play It Out
WR Gabriel Davis – Rd 4, 128th Overall
Gabriel Davis has far, far exceeded the position we drafted him at. The value gained from having him on the field has been significant for this offense. Many expected him to star in 2022, following one of the greatest single-game playoff performances of all time against the Kansas City Chiefs, but it was not to be. Still, he was indisputably one of the NFL’s best WR2s, and caught 836 yards (17.4 yds/reception) and seven TDs. He did have a large number of drops, but the positives have outweighed them.
Barring a replacement being both immediately available and affordable, Gabriel Davis should be next in line. He’s the most deserving player on this list, and will be the most notable absence if we can’t work out a contract extension.
Verdict: Extend Immediately
2021 Draft Picks
Note: These players will be eligible for an extension following this season.
Greg Rousseau – Rd 1, 30th Overall
Greg Rousseau is absolutely the most impactful player for the Buffalo Bills in this draft class. That being said, he’s the lone first round pick on this list. After two seasons, we have the comfort of knowing he can play in 2023 with an impending fifth-year option next offseason. If necessary, this decision on an extension can wait for a while. Still, we should be thrilled with what we saw from Greg Rousseau in 2022.
Verdict: Pick Up Fifth-Year Option
Carlos ‘Boogie’ Basham – Rd 2, 61st Overall
Greg Rousseau was supposed to be the ‘project pick’ and Basham a possible rookie starter, but things haven’t worked that way. In two seasons, Boogie has barely seen the field, and his absence isn’t a notable one. Not to say that we won’t see great things from him, but the value he gives this defensive line unit right now is negligible. He likely won’t see the field for us this season either, and his position on the roster comes into question.
Verdict: Trade or Practice Squad
Spencer Brown – Rd 3, 93rd Overall
Spencer Brown had all of the physical tools to excel at right tackle straight out of the draft. Much like many of the franchise’s recent selections, he had a lot to learn before he got there. Now, he’s expected to be the position of weakness on the offensive line. After two seasons, he’s gone from lovable newbie to liability.
The organization appears to have more confidence in him than we do, and neglected to bring in much competition for his position. Whether that’s enough for you or not, Brown seems to be the starter for this season. We’ll hope he’s picked up some things this offseason.
Verdict: Play It Out
Tommy Doyle – Rd 5, 161st Overall
Tommy Doyle has had a tough go so far. After providing versatility and depth as a rookie in 2021, even catching a touchdown against the Patriots on Wild Card Weekend, tragedy struck. Doyle suffered an ACL tear against Miami in Week 3, and missed the rest of his sophomore season. Now he returns, with a hope to contribute, but it’s a tough path.
He has not-insignificant competition to be a backup on this offensive line, and others provide similar versatility without the risk of being less than a year removed from a major injury. Doyle may not be on this team much longer, much less an extension candidate.
Verdict: Trade or Practice Squad
Damar Hamlin – Rd 6, 212th Overall
Off the field, Damar Hamlin has been having one of the greatest years of any player in football. From a meeting at The White House to discuss lifesaving measures to a journey across the country delivering AED devices and CPR training to thousands and thousands of people, he’s been everywhere. His mission has become bigger than football, but he still hopes to get on the field for the Buffalo Bills this season, and beyond.
From a medical and mental standpoint. he’s good to go. However, the Bills’ safety situation is vastly different to what it was back in January. We’ve gone from a team in desperate need of help at the position to one of the strongest safety groups in the NFL. Adding Taylor Rapp, retaining Jordan Poyer, and returning Micah Hyde makes for a crowded unit. The question isn’t ‘Can Damar Hamlin play?’, but ‘Can Damar Hamlin play for the Buffalo Bills?’
Damar may struggle to make this team but, if we keep four safeties, he should have the opportunity to fight for a starting role and contract extension in 2024. His experience starting in this defense may be invaluable soon.
Verdict: Backup For 2023, Re-evaluate for 2024
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