The Buffalo Bills splurged on a fullback early on in free agency during the 2017 NFL offseason, signing former Atlanta Falcons fullback Patrick DiMarco to a four-year deal worth $8.4 million. In the first year of that contract, the Bills received little return on their investment, as their running game took a step back, and the man they inked to be LeSean McCoy’s lead blocker did not perform as anticipated.
Coming in at number five on our list of Buffalo’s worst salary cap values from 2017 is a man who is among the highest-paid players at a position which is quickly losing relevance in the modern NFL.
2017 Cap Hit (per Spotrac): $1.85 million (1.19% of 2017 Cap)
2017 Cap Hit Rank by Position: 3rd among fullbacks
2017 Vital Stats: 16 games, 9 starts (25.19% offensive snaps), 2 rushes, -2 rushing yards, 10 targets, 7 receptions, 28 yards
Obviously, a fullback isn’t going to put up many counting stats, as most of the time, he enters the game with one goal—clearing a path for the running back to do his thing. Buffalo’s number-one ranked rushing attack in 2015 and 2016 slid to number six last season, averaging 126.1 yards per game on 30.4 attempts per game. For comparison’s sake, the Bills averaged 164.4 rushing yards per game as a team in 2016 with right around the same number of attempts per game (30.8).
The blame can’t all fall on DiMarco, as there were multiple factors that went into the slide in rushing production. Offensive coordinator Rick Dennison ran a far more vanilla system than predecessors Greg Roman and Anthony Lynn ran the year before. McCoy was also another year older, although he did not appear to have lost much spring in his legs. The offensive line performed worse as a unit, as well.
DiMarco signed with the Bills, bringing with him a reputation as a great lead blocker who helped Atlanta to the 6th-best rushing offense in 2016. Pro Football Focus ranked DiMarco tenth out of all fullbacks, but his grade (44.6) was among the lowest of all Buffalo starters. Mix in the fact that he only played on one-fourth of Buffalo’s offensive snaps while collecting a top-14 salary on the club, and he definitely merits inclusion on this list.