This writer believes that the Buffalo Bills would have won the Super Bowl this past NFL season had pass-rusher and future Hall of Famer Von Miller not suffered a season-ending injury in a win over Detroit on Thanksgiving. The Bills aren’t messing around this year to finally win a title as they have added some Miller insurance in his former Rams pass-rushing teammate Leonard Floyd.
NFL Betting News: Bills Add Pass-Rusher Leonard Floyd, But It May Cost Dalvin Cook
Miller had lived up to the expectations in the 2022 season set by his six-year, $120 million free-agent deal with Buffalo, recording eight sacks and providing a constant pass-rushing impact. Originally, it wasn’t thought the injury was that serious and Miller would be able to return but that was not the case.
The Bills badly missed him in the 27-10 home playoff loss to Joe Burrow and the Bengals. Burrow completed his first nine passes for 105 yards as Cincinnati raced to a 14-0 lead after its first two possessions. Miller has about a nine-month recovery window, putting his availability in question for the start of the season.
“You know I love guarantees,” Miller said this week about expecting to play Week 1. “It’s me. It’s Von. I love guarantees. I want to play. In 2013, I had [ACL] surgery in January and I played at the beginning of August in the preseason. So that put me around seven months, eight months. And 10 years removed from that, 2023, I have a whole new outlook. I know exactly where I’m supposed to be at two months, four months, six months and in the position where I’m at now. I feel great, I feel comfortable.”
Per Sports Info Solutions, the Bills’ pressure rate last year was 37.1% with Miller and 34.6% without. Their sack rate was 7.2% with Miller, and 6.0% without. Miller is working out currently in Colorado. Perhaps a realistic return timeline for him is Week 6.
The Rams released Floyd in March after not being able to find a trade partner for the veteran outside linebacker. The 30-year-old had 29 sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception in his three seasons with the Rams, registering at least nine sacks each year. He had his best season in 2020, his first with Los Angeles, when he posted a career-best 10.5 sacks.
Floyd joins a defensive ends room that features Miller, Greg Rousseau, A.J. Epenesa, Boogie Basham, and veteran Shaq Lawson. The Bills have been waiting for their young second-round picks from 2020 and 2021 – Epenesa and Basham – to blossom, but adding Floyd could indicate that their patience has dwindled.
The Bills made it to the divisional round of the playoffs despite a pass rush that didn’t do very much. Buffalo ranked 14th in sacks, 14th in pressure rate, 13th in quarterback knockdown rate, and 15th in quarterback hurry rate.
Floyd’s arrival could mean both Epenesa and Basham are set to face more of a challenge throughout the summer for a spot on the line and maybe even a roster spot. The move to add Floyd late in free agency comes after the Bills didn’t add to their defensive line during the draft in April. Instead, the team signed defensive tackle Poona Ford to a one-year, $2.25 million deal in May. Defensive tackle Ed Oliver also recently agreed on a four-year, $68 million extension, which the team made official on Monday.
That Oliver extension means Buffalo is now quite tight up against the salary cap and might not be able to afford running back Dalvin Cook. The Vikings are expected to release or trade the four-time Pro Bowler and the Bills are on Cook’s shortlist because they are Super Bowl contenders and his younger brother James is a tailback for them. Dalvin Cook is set to make $10.4 million this season. He rushed for 1,173 yards and eight touchdowns last season.
Buffalo has less than $1.5 million available in cap space, the second-least in the NFL. The Bills would need Cook to take a heck of a pay cut or a contract hugely based on incentives to get him to fit under the cap.
To win Super Bowl 58 next February in Las Vegas, Buffalo is +900, behind only Kansas City (+600) and Philadelphia (+650), last year’s two Super Bowl teams. The Bills are 2-point Week 1 favorites at Aaron Rodgers and the New York Jets.
I have read enough, I need to place my bet now. What to do?