ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Bills conclude the final phase of voluntary organized team activities this week, ahead of next week’s mandatory minicamp that will wrap up the offseason program. Here are four takeaways from Tuesday’s OTA practice that was open to media.
There’s a new ‘big dog in the yard. After signing his contract in the morning, free agent acquisition Leonard Floyd practiced with the Bills for the first time Tuesday. Wearing No. 56, the 6-foot-5 edge rusher immediately turned heads as one of the largest defenders on Buffalo’s roster.
The Bills got Floyd for a bit of a bargain. The 30-year-old agreed to a one-year contract reportedly worth up to $9 million with incentives ($7 million base salary). That’s slightly less than the $10 million Floyd earned last year with the LA Rams, and significantly below his nearly $14 million market value, as calculated by Spotrac.
Floyd acknowledged that other teams might have offered him a more lucrative deal, but that the Bills offered something that other suitors could not.
“I want to win the Super Bowl,” Floyd said. “And I’m examining teams and looking at the rosters, and the Bills’ the best. You know what I’m saying? And I just felt like if I come here, I can help the team get there and win again.”
Floyd, who compiled 29 sacks in three years with the Rams, nine more than Buffalo’s sack leaders from each of those seasons, has already won a Super Bowl playing alongside Von Miller in LA. With Miller working his way back from ACL surgery, Floyd is eager to reform their dynamic duo.
“Plan on being the big dog until the big dog come back,” Floyd said. “Then we share it.”
Floyd noted Miller’s impact in his first season with the Bills (eight sacks in 12 games), and the encouraging scouting report he received from his former teammate.
“This defense is a special defense,” Floyd said, “especially after watching it last year with Von. This is a defense you want to be a part of.”
Floyd will augment a pass rush that also features Greg Rousseau, AJ Epenesa and Shaq Lawson. His signing should not alter the timeline for Miller’s return to action, Bills general manager Brandon Beane said.
“Von is shooting for Week 1. That’s his target. That’s never changed,” Beane said. “As we sit here today, that’s still his goal. Our goal, even if we knew right now that he’s going to play Week 1, we would have done this.
“This wasn’t a move of, `Oh, Von might not be ready.’ This was about adding to our group, adding another player. You know, we like to rush in waves. We don’t play our D-line a high volume of snaps. We want them fresh getting after that quarterback. So it was really just adding another guy to the group.”
Ed Oliver expects to “outplay“ his $68 million contract extension. The 25-year-old defensive tackle was happy to commit to another four years beyond this season, and he believes that the Bills will get good value over the term of a second contract for the ninth overall pick in 2019.
“I don’t feel no pressure,” Oliver said Tuesday. “I feel like I’ma outplay the contract, to be honest. That’s just the way I think, I just want to shut everybody up who said I was overpaid, or something like that. Just sit back and watch.”
Through his first four seasons, Oliver has 151 tackles (30 for loss), 14.5 sacks, 42 quarterback hits and four forced fumbles. He dealt with an ankle injury last season and finished with 34 tackles (nine for loss), 2.5 sacks and 14 QB hits in 13 games.
“I know when I step on the field, I’m a dominant player,” Oliver said.
Combined with the $10.8 million he was scheduled to earn in the fifth year of his rookie deal, the average annual value of Oliver’s contract is now about $16 million, making him the 13th highest-paid player at his position in the NFL.
“That position, it’s a premium position in our league, and they’re hard to find,” said Beane, noting the Bills don’t expect to draft in the top 10 again soon. “His best football is ahead of him, and it’s on him and us to continue to develop him to be one of those top players. Again, you’re looking at those numbers. The highest guys making ($30 million), got a lot of guys getting in the 20s. So if they’re any good, you’re going to be paying them pretty good money.”
The Bills are tight against the salary cap. Oliver’s extension lowered his 2023 cap charge by about $5 million. The Bills used some of that salary cap space to sign Floyd, however his cap figure is only $1.2 million due to three void years on the deal.
Beane said he projects the Bills would be a few million over cap if they had to cut down the roster to 53 players today. Counting only the top 51 salaries, the Bills are about $3-4 million under the cap, Beane said.
“We’re still going to have to do some moves at some point to create more room,” Beane said.
The Bills can create space by converting base salaries of players under long-term contract into bonuses that spread the cap hit over multiple years, as they did before the start of free agency.
Beane has limited resources, however, to add another high-priced player, such as free agent wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.
“If somebody wants to come for cheap,” Beane said. “Come on down.”
Senior defensive assistant Al Holcomb “couldn’t be more excited” to work with Sean McDermott again. Holcomb coached the Carolina Panthers’ linebackers from 2013-17, when McDermott was the defensive coordinator for most of the period. Holcomb said Tuesday he will focus on the back seven as McDermott takes over coordinating the Bills defense while Leslie Frazier is on sabbatical.
“Having the familiarity with Sean, and being with him when he was calling plays the defense back in Carolina, I have a pretty good understanding of his mindset, what he’s looking for just from a standpoint of how I see things and my take on certain things of that nature,” Holcomb said.
Jonah Bronstein joined the WIVB squad in 2022 as a digital sports reporter. The Buffalonian has covered the Bills, Sabres, Bandits, Bisons, colleges, high schools and other notable sporting events in Western New York since 2005, for publications including The Associated Press, The Buffalo News, and Niagara Gazette. Read more of his work here.