The Buffalo Bills defense appears on paper to be vastly improved over the 2017 version. The Bills added talent in the secondary and on the defensive line, and they drafted a linebacker in Tremaine Edmunds that they hope will be the centerpiece of the defense for a long time.
Where they still need to improve, or at least have people step up to prove their mettle, is in the linebacking corps. While the top three seems to be fairly set, the backups leave a lot to be desired in terms of NFL production and name-recognition. Our latest installment of “90 players in 90 days” looks at one of those players angling for a job among the backup linebackers.
Name: Julian Stanford
Height/Weight: 6’1”, 230 lbs.
Draft: UDFA 2012 (signed with Jacksonville Jaguars)
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Stanford signed a two-year contract with Buffalo on March 14. The pact pays him $3 million, with a cap hit of $1.475 million in 2018. $550,000 is guaranteed.
2017 Recap: Stanford was a special teams stalwart for the New York Jets, appearing on 82% of their special teams snaps. He also made one start on defense. In total, he made 19 total tackles while playing for New Jersey’s green squad.
Positional outlook: Linebacker is an area of need for the Bills. With Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds all but guaranteed to start, and Lorenzo Alexander a great probability, as well, it would appear that Stanford is fighting to join Ramon Humber as a backup linebacker/special teams ace in 2018. Stanford’s contract suggests that the Bills want him to fill that role, as he trails only Alexander and Edmunds in terms of salary cap hit among Buffalo’s linebackers.
2018 Offseason: When interviewed upon signing with the club, Stanford noted that he was coming to Buffalo mainly as a special teams contributor. His role will be one to watch through offseason activities and the preseason.
2018 season outlook: While not a lock to make the roster, Stanford is pretty close to one. His contract, the team’s lack of depth at the position, and his ability to play special teams all indicate that he will have a defined role in 2018. While it’s unlikely that he will have many chances on defense barring injury to other players, he will almost certainly be one of special teams coach Danny Crossman’s most-used players this year.