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The Backseat GM: Why the Bills Shouldn’t Sign Kawann Short (& Why They Will Anyways)



We are now well into the off-season, and the intrigue is palpable. Mock drafts are popping up everywhere and notable players are changing teams (either by trade or release). It’s been a while since I have written a solo piece, so I thought this was the perfect time to start a new column.  Introducing, “The Backseat GM”. In this bi-weekly series, I will give my “professional” insights on various topics. (I’ve won countless Madden and fantasy championships, so I’m pretty sure I can lead an NFL front office.)

In this first installment, I will discuss one of the most notable defensive players in free agency. It’s not Patrick Peterson. No, not Richard Sherman. Not even J.J. Watt. (Ben Blakely and I already discussed him in detail.)

It’s former Carolina Panther, Kawann Short. Why? Because McDermott and Beane have a propensity to go after former Panthers. Many are asking whether the Bills should go after him. The short answer is no. However, given the aforementioned infatuation with Carolina cast-offs, I am 99.999999% sure they will sign him anyway. Here are the reasons why the Bills should not, and probably will, sign Kawann Short.

Why the Bills Should Not Sign Him

1.) Declining Production

From 2015 to 2017, Kawann Short was among the cream of the crop for defensive tackles, recording 24.5 sacks, 159 tackles (35 for loss), and 52 quarterback hits. He earned a five-year, $80.5 million contract extension from the Panthers as a result. However, in the three seasons since, Short has tallied just three sacks, 52 tackles (13 for loss), and 11 quarterback hits. While he did make the Pro Bowl in 2018, that was likely less for production and more name recognition. So what happened?

2.) Recent Injury Issues

Short played 94 consecutive games to begin his career but has played only seven games since. His injury woes began with a right calf strain late in 2018. Then, his 2019 season ended after two games when he tore his rotator cuff (right shoulder). Meanwhile, Short’s 2020 campaign was derailed by right foot and shoulder injuries (pedal foot and cartilage tear respectively). I’m not a medical expert, but it seems almost impossible for him to return to productivity after suffering multiple injuries to the same shoulder and leg/foot.

3.) Former Panthers Don’t (Usually) Pan Out

I believe it was the great William Shakespeare who once said, “all that Panthers is not gold”. (It might’ve been something else. I’m not a poetry guy.) The following table lists all the former Panthers McDermott and Beane have brought to Buffalo since 2017:

Player NameYear AcquiredGames PlayedStatsStill with Team (2/19/21)?
Mike Tolbert20171266 carries, 247 yards, 1 TD;
14 receptions, 78 yards
Joe Webb2017162/7, 35 yards, 1 INT;
8 carries, 54 yards;
8 tackles
Kelvin Benjamin20171839 receptions, 571 yards, 2 TDsN
Kaelin Clay201741 reception, 28 yards;
1 carry, 0 yards;
2 returns, 2 yards
Leonard Johnson20171553 tackles, 2 TFLs, 7 PDs, 1 FF, 1 FRN
Derek Anderson2018242/70, 465 yards, 4 INTs;
1 carry, -1 yard
Dean Marlowe20182638 tackles, 2 TFLs, 1.5 sacks, 2 QB hits, 2 INTs, 5 PDs, 1 FRY
Star Lotulelei20183236 tackles, 4 TFLs, 2 sacks, 3 QB hits, 1 INT, 1 PDY
Kurt Coleman2019143 tackles, 1 TFLN
Bryan Cox Jr.202011 tackleY
Andre Smith2020129 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 FFY
Vernon Butler20201418 tackles, 5 TFLs, 2 QB hits, 1 PD, 1 FFY
Josh Norman2020924 tackles, 2 TFLs, 1 INT, 4 PDs, 1 FF, 2 FRsY
Mario Addison20201530 tackles, 7 TFLs, 5 sacks, 8 QB hits, 4 PDsY
A.J. Klein20201675 tackles, 5 TFLs, 5 sacks, 9 QB hits, 4 PDs, 2 FFs, 1 FRY

Of the 15 players listed, only three played more than one full season (16 games): Star Lotulelei, Dean Marlowe, and Kelvin Benjamin. Don’t get me wrong, I like Star and Process Protégé Dean Marlowe, but the vast majority of former Panthers flame out here.

Why the Bills Will Sign Him

1.) Former Panther

Let’s be honest, they will sign Kawann Short because he is a former Panther. Like Star and Josh Norman, his best years came in McDermott’s defense with Eric Washington as the defensive line coach. So, he will likely give (another) one of his former players a chance as a favor.

2.) Veteran Experience

Given Short’s experience in McDermott’s defense, I guess it’s theoretically possible that he could come in and immediately play in the rotation. He could also serve as a mentor for the youngsters in the DT room (i.e. Ed Oliver, Harrison Phillips, Justin Zimmer, and/or whichever rookie they draft).

3.) Cheap Price Tag

The third reason why the Bills will likely sign Short is that he doesn’t have a hot, “wild” (as one player put it) market. His injuries and declining production have made him virtually undesirable and, therefore, cheap. They could give him a one-year prove-it deal for the veteran minimum with performance-based incentives (i.e. snap percentage, stats, etc.). This way, McDermott can see if he has anything left in the tank without a major commitment.

Author’s Notes

Player stats provided by Pro Football Reference.

Financial figures provided by Spotrac.

Injury descriptions provided by Sports Injury Predictor.

What do you think Bills fans? Will the Bills sign Kawann Short? Should they sign him? Let me know in the comments, on Twitter (@zvaughn2712), or on Facebook.