The Buffalo Bills had a lot of free agents to replace this offseason, and many of them played important roles with a lot of playing time. They look to be a little better off in that regard for next season, but there are still a few key guys whose contracts are about to expire. One of them is today’s player, a three-year defensive starter who figures to play an important role again in 2017.
Name: Preston Brown
Height/Weight: 6’1”, 251 lbs.
Draft: Round 3, Pick 73 by the Buffalo Bills (2014)
Financial Situation (per Spotrac): Brown is in the final season of the four-year deal he signed as a rookie in 2014. His cap hit this year is just a shade under $2 million, with a minimal dead cap hit if the Bills were to cut him.
2016 Recap: Brown started all 16 games for the Bills, recording a career high 135 tackles (76 solo) and his first career sack during the Week 8 loss to the New England Patriots. His season high of 16 tackles came during the Week 2 loss to the New York Jets, while he recorded 13 in each of the final two games of the season.
Positional Outlook: The switch in the team’s base defense has thrown the linebacker position into something of a state of flux. Brown has played middle linebacker regardless of the defensive lineup, and should continue to do so. His primary competition will be Reggie Ragland, last year’s second-round pick who missed the season with a torn ACL.
2017 Offseason: Brown received a vote of confidence from defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, but has mostly kept a low profile as he fights to keep his job.
2017 Season Outlook: I’d be surprised if Ragland is able to beat out Brown for the starting middle linebacker role. That said, Brown has a lot to prove if he wants to earn a big payday with his second NFL contract. He had a ton of tackles, but didn’t do very well in pass defense and had a few notable lapses. That said, a change in scenery on the sidelines could do wonders for him this year.