The Buffalo Bills have reshaped their entire defense over the last two years, bringing in the personnel that best fits the 4-3 scheme of head coach Sean McDermott and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. While the 2017 offseason overhaul centered mainly on the defensive secondary, as the team transitioned from a primarily man-based scheme to one more heavily reliant on zone coverages, the 2018 offseason has been on where the team has added multiple players to the front seven.
In today’s edition of “90 players in 90 days,” we introduce one of the newest additions to the defensive line.
Name: Ryan Russell
Height/Weight: 6’5” 275 lbs.
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Russell signed a one-year contract on July 29. The deal calls for him to make $705,000 if he makes the final roster; that same monetary figure will also be his 2018 cap hit.
2017 Recap: Russell was a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2017, appearing in 14 games with 6 starts (he did not appear in the game against Buffalo due to a dislocated shoulder). He had 16 tackles and 2 sacks on the season.
Positional outlook: Russell joins a crowded rotation at defensive end that is full of competition. Jerry Hughes and Trent Murphy appear to be the starting group, with Eddie Yarbrough and Shaq Lawson currently running as the second group. Russell and Terrence Fede make up the third team at this point, with Mike Love and Mat Boesen rounding out the positional group.
2018 Offseason: Russell joined the Bills late, but he has already made his way up to the third team, according to Joe Buscaglia’s daily depth charts.
2018 season outlook: It’s going to be a tough road for any of the last four ends (Fede, Russell, Love, and Boesen) to make the roster, let alone break into the rotation. The team won’t keep more than 5 defensive ends, so it’s likely that only one of that final four will find his way onto the 53-man roster. Russell’s size and strength gives him an intriguing element to his game that the others can’t match, but he lacks the pure pass rush ability of Boesen and the upside of Love. Adding him late in camp means that the Bills weren’t satisfied with the players they had, and since they picked Russell, it shows that the coaching staff might think of him as an upgrade.