One of the Bills true ‘Process’ players is back in Buffalo for the long haul. A fifth-round pick in that legendary 2018 draft class, Siran Neal bought into the culture of the team immediately. The cornerback has a larger build and plays physical, though lacking in some coverage technique. He’s best known for his work as a special teamer.
His work as a gunner on punts puts him as one of the league’s best, and he has a unique skill set on defense, often playing more of a safety role than that of a true cornerback. A core special teamer who does take rare snaps on defense, Neal was evidently a priority for this front office this offseason. His extension likely precedes that of other Bills players before free agency.
On February 23rd, 2022, Siran Neal inked his three-year extension worth $10.9 million; a huge deal for someone who plays primarily on special teams. His estimated $3.66 million average annual value is not unreasonable, though still more than the rest of the league is paid for his role. Though the Bills are projected to be over the 2022 cap, Neal’s deal will likely not feature a significant hit, with money tied up in incentives instead. He’s a notoriously healthy player, and those incentives will likely be based off special teams tackles and snap percentages. Expect him to hit them as his role expands.
Why It Works
Neal has put good work against opposing tight ends on tape, as evidenced by his efforts in Week 5 of the 2021 season filling in for the injured Matt Milano against Travis Kelce in a huge three-score win in Kansas City. Neal was highly effective, and did everything asked of him. Evidently, his tackling was solid, and he was never outpaced by the faster playmaker. Neal has the traits needed for a wider range of roles. We can expect more of this moving forward, per Ryan Talbot.
He’s a versatile player and, in order to keep both sides of the ball flexible, we need elite special teamers who can fill roles outside their own. Siran Neal is one of those players. He’s always around the ball and has proven his worth on special teams. As he’s tasked with more snaps on defense, he’ll turn into a toolsy role player. As he steps up in this defense, he’ll help us combat coverages we have experienced difficulties with.
All told, this deal was worth the money. Players like Siran Neal are hard to come by, and worth the little extra spending to keep around long-term. With three more years of elite play from our gunner, the Buffalo Bills combat an area that good teams must always excel in: field position. His versatility is top-tier and fans can expect to see continued success on punts and kickoffs.