When NFL teams make roster decisions, familiarity can be a major factor. The Buffalo Bills are no exception, as the arrival of Sean McDermott foreshadowed the arrival of several players who shared a locker room with him in Carolina last season.
One of those players has an additional level of familiarity with the team. Not only did he spend last season with the Panthers, he also played under defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier and defensive backs coach Gill Byrd with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Name: Leonard Johnson
Height/Weight: 5’10”, 194 lbs.
College: Iowa State
Draft: UDFA (2012)
Financial Situation (per Spotrac): Johnson is in Buffalo on a one-year deal that will pay him $775,000 with a cap hit of $695,000. There is no guaranteed money in the deal.
2016 Recap: Johnson appeared in ten games for the Panthers last year after an achilles injury cost him the first six weeks of the season. He finished the year with 30 tackles (22 solo) and a sack. He didn’t record an interception, but did break up one pass.
Positional Outlook: With the top three spots in the pecking order fairly secure, Johnson is in competition for one of two (maybe three) backup roles. There are a few undrafted rookies in the bunch, along with a few veterans. None of the others, however, have played under any of the coaches who will be working with the secondary.
2017 Offseason: Johnson signed with the Bills back in March, after the arrival of McDermott but before the hiring of Brandon Beane as general manager. McDermott spoke highly of Johnson during the minicamp session last month, which should bode well for his chances at making the roster.
2017 Season Outlook: Johnson has played under the coaches he’ll be working with and is still earning raves about his play and demeanor. I’d put Johnson’s chances of making the roster around 60-70%, and he could even compete with Kevon Seymour for time as the third cornerback in the rotation.