Special teams is, as former Buffalo Bills head coach Marv Levy used to say, one-third of the NFL game. Most teams do not treat special teams with equal importance to offense and defense, however.
Today’s player profiled in our “90 players in 90 days” series is one who played almost exclusively on special teams in 2017.
Name: Deon Lacey
Height/Weight: 6’3” 235 lbs.
College: West Alabama
Financial situation (per Over the Cap): Lacey signed a two-year deal with the Bills in October of last year. The contract totals $1,020,000, and his cap hit for the 2018 season is $555,000. He is set to become a restricted free agent at season’s end.
2017 Recap: Lacey began the season with the Miami Dolphins, but he was waived at the end of the preseason. Buffalo claimed him the following day, and he spent the entire 2017 season with the Bills. Buffalo did briefly release Lacey on October 18, but they re-signed him the following day. He totaled one tackle on the season, but he played in a team-leading 285 special teams snaps (65.22%).
Positional outlook: Lacey is looking to make the roster in the same role that he had last season, as the starting linebackers seem to be pretty well set. Lorenzo Alexander, Tremaine Edmunds, and Matt Milano look to be the starting group, with veteran Ramon Humber the most likely to sub in for Milano in obvious run downs. Julian Stanford signed with the Bills in the offseason, and he also provides excellent special teams ability. Buffalo also has Tanner Vallejo, Xavier Woodson-Luster, and Corey Thompson competing at the position.
2018 Offseason: Lacey has attended all offseason activities to date.
2018 season outlook: While he may have played more special teams snaps than anyone on the 2017 Bills’ roster, this does not mean that Lacey is a lock for the roster in 2018. With the signing of Stanford, along with the continued development of second-year man Tanner Vallejo, Lacey could find himself on the outside looking in come final cutdown day. He’ll need a stellar camp or an injury to a player ahead of him in order to stick on the final roster.