When the 2017 free agency period opened, the Buffalo Bills wasted little time in adding a new fullback to the roster. Former Atlanta Falcons stalwart Patrick DiMarco inked a four-year deal with the Bills in early March 2017. He was coming off of two fantastic years in Atlanta, earning tops grade at the fullback position from Pro Football Focus in both 2015 (overall) and 2016 (blocking).
In 2017, however, DiMarco’s play slid a bit. Whether that was due to usage, scheme, or some combination of factors therein is unclear. What is clear, however, is that the latest subject in our “90 players in 90 days” series is someone who the Bills hope will have a strong 2018 season.
Name: Patrick DiMarco
Height/Weight: 6’1” 234 lbs.
College: South Carolina
Draft: Entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the San Diego (now Los Angeles) Chargers in 2011
Financial situation (per Spotrac): DiMarco enters the second year of a four-year contract worth a total of $8.4 million. In 2018, he will carry a cap hit of $2.05 million.
2017 Recap: It’s difficult to gauge a fullback’s play during a game, as his success mostly leads to the success of others and can easily go unnoticed in the trenches. DiMarco was only used one around one-quarter of the team’s offensive snaps (25.19%). That usage rate is around 5% lower than that of the team’s previous fullback, Jerome Felton, in 2016 (30.26%). The man that both DiMarco and Felton blocked for primarily, LeSean McCoy, had a much better 2016 (1,267 yards, 13 TDs, 5.4 YPC) than he did 2017 (1,138 yards, 6 TDs, 4 YPC). Now, not all of this is due to a change in fullbacks or a drop in usage rates of a fullback; however, if a fullback’s success is judged mainly by the success of his running back, then DiMarco did not help McCoy to a better season. DiMarco played in all 16 games, making a career-high 9 starts. He had 7 catches for 28 yards and 2 rushes for -2 yards.
Positional outlook: Along with Zach Olstad, DiMarco is the only fullback on the roster.
2018 Offseason: DiMarco attended the NFL’s annual Business Academy in March. In an article in The Buffalo News, DiMarco said that he did so with the knowledge that, at 29 and entering his ninth NFL season, he needs to make sure that he has a plan for his post-NFL future.
2018 season outlook: Barring something unforeseen, the Bills will have DiMarco on the roster when the season opens September 9 against the Baltimore Ravens. With new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll taking over for Rick Dennison, DiMarco’s usage will be worth watching. Hopefully, the scheme change allows him to revert to his 2015 and 2016 form this season.