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State of the Bills Defense: Defensive Line



The discussion of the state of the Buffalo Bills’ defense is nothing new. While the team’s defensive line seems to have greater longevity than their defensive skilled positions, at least in terms of free agency, the defensive line still needs work. There was general outrage amongst fans toward the end of the season, and we still want answers.

Defensive Tackles

Ed Oliver: 2024

DaQuan Jones: 2024

Tim Settle: 2024

Jordan Phillips: FA

As the Buffalo Bills’ first-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, Ed Oliver had a decent season. The DT had 34 tackles and received a PFF grade of 68.5. In the long run, however, Oliver seems to have been an inconsistent player. Whether it was due to injury or not, the lack of consistency is certainly a concern as he heads into the final year of his rookie contract.

Missing only one game this season, DaQuan Jones had fairly impressive stats. With 38 tackles and an overall PFF grade of 72.6, the 31-year old proved to be a good addition to the defensive line. The Bills defense was better against the run this season than they had been in years past, and Jones was arguably a huge help in that. Aside from Von Miller, who suffered an ACL tear on Thanksgiving, Jones may have been the team’s best defensive lineman and will likely be extended.

Finishing the season with 20 tackles and a PFF grade of 52.2, Jordan Phillips also had an injury-riddled season. With a torn rotator cuff and surgery required in the offseason, the 30-year old may not be the best option for the Bills to re-sign.

As one of the younger DTs, Tim Settle had a good season. But was it good enough? Probably not. With 19 tackles, a PFF grade of 53.8, and an injury in the playoffs, the Bills could afford to part ways with him.

Defensive Ends

Von Miller: 2028

Greg Rousseau: 2026

Shaq Lawson: FA

Boogie Basham: 2025

A.J. Epenesa: 2024

According to, first-round pick Greg Rousseau was an unsung hero this season. With a PFF grade of 83.6, the 22-year old has a very promising future. Rousseau had four sacks in his rookie year, and doubled that this season. He was tied for the team lead with Von Miller, who played in four less games. The Bills are lucky to have Rousseau for a few more years, as he looks to continue his success and growth.

Shaq Lawson is a free agent heading into the offseason. Finishing with 3.5 sacks and a PFF grade of 61.8, the 28-year old had a decent season. But he also proved that he could not hold up as a leading pass rusher. While the majority of fans would like to see Lawson return next season, we need to see more from him.

Boogie Basham and A.J. Epenesa were both players who found ways to grow throughout the season. Basham finished the season with three total sacks and a PFF grade of 66.4; Epenesa had 6.5 sacks and a PFF grade of 56.7. As a 25-year old, Basham seemed to have found a good rhythm in his second year with the Bills and looks to continue it in the future. Epenesa has similar goals for the offseason, and he looks to continue his growth and be there for the team even more next season.

Time to Say Goodbye?

We’ve been saying it for weeks now, but the Buffalo Bills coaching staff truly has some big decisions to make this offseason. Especially if they want to make it to the Super Bowl. With an inadequate salary cap and many free agents emerging, we need to start preparing to say goodbye to some players.

Featured Image: John McCoy/AP