The Buffalo Bills claimed Jordan Phillips off waivers from the Miami Dolphins during the 2018 season and once he arrived in Western New York, he played with a great motor—something lacking in South Beach. That, of course, makes handing him even a medium-sized contract problematic. Something else that makes it difficult to project a contract for him is the position he plays and what a team wants him to do.
In Buffalo, Phillips clogged rushing lanes and stepped into passing lanes to knock down the ball. He had just one sack in 2018, and that was in the first part of the season while he was with the Dolphins. He averages around 20 tackles a year.
Phillips played 26% of Buffalo’s defensive snaps in 2018, a number that jumps above one-third if you only include games he was on the roster. It was 38% for Miami in 2017, 54% in 2016, and 37% in his rookie year.
So is he a starter or a rotational piece? Does his motivation concern you moving forward or are you ready to commit to him? What’s his role on the team?
Sure, he fires up the crowd, but Buffalo already has a highly-paid space eater in Star Lotulelei and a young up-and-comer in Harrison Phillips that can do that, too. What they need is a penetrating defensive tackle to take the place of Kyle Williams and complement Lotulelei and Phillips. I don’t know if Phillips does that enough for me to commit big money.
If you look at all the free agent defensive tackle contracts signed in 2018, the majority were for a single year. Only Lotulelei, Dontari Poe, and Xavier Williams signed multi-year deals a year ago.
Factor in a strong class of potential free agents and a strong class of players available in the 2019 NFL Draft, and the Bills are in a strong negotiating position. All of that is to say, I’m offering him a one-year deal to see what he can do in training camp knowing I can get another that can do that cheaply. That’s not a deal Phillips is going to sign before he hits the open market.
Last year, Johnathan Hankins had to wait until after Week 1 to sign his $2.1 million deal. He made his way into the starting line up and is a big free agent prospect in 2019 after playing well in Oakland. Phillips will need to follow a similar path and wait it out to sign a bigger deal.