Let’s make a distinction clear as it relates to salary cap spending: There’s a big difference between value and good value.
The Buffalo Bills had a lot of value positions in 2018 – as in low cost, low return.
The Bills spent the least in the NFL on active offensive linemen last season, at $13.8 million, according to Overthecap.com. The average was $29 million. The return on investment, of course, was lacking.
Linebacker was a different story. The Bills had the fifth-least expensive unit in the NFL, taking up just $8.7 million in space. The league average was $19.1 million. Yet the starting trio of Lorenzo Alexander, Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds helped make the Bills’ defense one of the best in the league.
Here’s a look at the players who are giving the Bills the best bang for their buck (with their 2019 cap hit in parentheses):
1. Micah Hyde ($6.6 million). The fact that the Bills allowed the fewest pass plays of both 20-or-more and 40-or-more yards in the league is a testament to how assignment-sound the entire secondary plays. It’s especially true for Hyde, who gives the Bills great range in the back end. Hyde has the sixth-highest cap hit on the team. In terms of the average per year on his contract ($6.1 million), he’s 19th among NFL safeties, according to Spotrac.
2. Tre’Davious White ($2.75 million). The second-year cornerback helped the Bills allow the fewest passing yards in the league and took on the opposition’s No. 1 wide receiver in many games. The Bills were seventh in the league in defending No. 1 wideouts, according to Football Outsiders. White didn’t make as many plays (two interceptions, eight pass breakups) as he did in his rookie year (four INTs, 18 PBUs).
3. Matt Milano ($710,376). It’s great to hit on fifth-round draft choices, which is reflected in Milano’s salary. It ranks 30th on the team. He’s signed for two more years. Milano’s knack for getting to the ball was shown by the fact he intercepted three passes, recovered three fumbles and broke up seven passes.
4. Tremaine Edmunds ($2.87 million). The rookie middle linebacker got better as the season went on. His 83-inch wingspan is a weapon. Edmunds finished with 12 passes defended, second in the league among linebackers, behind the Rams’ Cory Littlejohn.
5. Jordan Poyer ($3.8 million). The Bills ask a lot of Poyer in terms of putting his 191-pound body in harm’s way near the line of scrimmage. That’s how he likes to play. His versatility is a big help to defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. He’s a quality “No. 2” safety, and his contract average currently is 35th among safeties.
Honorable mention: defensive back Taron Johnson ($731,517), wide receiver Robert Foster ($570,000), defensive back Levi Wallace ($570,000).