The Buffalo Bills had several young players who represented great value on the salary cap in 2018. We begin our series looking at the best contracts in Buffalo with a look at the players that just missed the cut on our top 10.
DT Harrison Phillips
Defensive tackle Harrison Phillips showed that he can be an effective contributor on the defensive line during the 2018 season. As a rookie third-round pick, he got to learn from two veterans in Kyle Williams and Star Lotulelei. With the addition of Ed Oliver, Phillips will likely be the first defensive tackle to be subbed in for either Oliver as the three-tech or Lotulelei as the nose tackle during the upcoming season.
Phillips played in all 16 games for the Bills last season. In those games he had 35 total tackles. Pound for pound, Phillips was the most productive defensive tackle on the stat sheet for the Bills. Phillips tied Kyle Williams for tackles on the season and both led the team at their position. However, Phillips played considerably less than Williams or Lotulelei. Williams played 656 snaps (64.69%), Lotulelei played 475 snaps (46.84%) and Phillips played just 389 snaps (38.36%).
As far as money goes, Phillips was a bargain for the Bills in 2018 with a cap hit of only $673,760. Phillips’s 2018 season showed the Bills that they have a valuable player to rotate along the defensive line—and the potential to move into a starting role—for the next few seasons.
RB Marcus Murphy
Murphy made just $602k with the Bills in 2018, but he played 196 snaps on offense and 79 snaps on special teams, figures that represent 18% of the team’s total snaps in those phases.
He rushed for 250 yards on 52 attempts and hauled in 11 catches. He returned punts and kickoffs and generally was a solid replacement-level player playing on a cheap contract.
LB Corey Thompson
A name you probably don’t remember hearing much, Thompson played a ton of special teams and even made one start at linebacker with injuries running through the position group.
All together, he played 80 snaps on defense and 104 snaps on defense (and that was in just six games) while forcing a fumble an recording 14 tackles. Because he wasn’t around for the entire season, he only cost $169,410 against the cap, a bargain for the amount of playing time he received in the games he played.
WR Isaiah McKenzie
Acquired during the season off waivers from the Denver Broncos, McKenzie played an important role in Buffalo’s offense because the cupboard was bare. On 19% of the offensive snaps and 19% of the special teams snaps for the year, $261,176 seems like a bargain for 18 catches and 180 yards through the air with ten rushes for 66 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
TE Jason Croom
Like McKenzie, Croom earned some or all of his playing time by default. He took advantage of it from time to time, scoring a touchdown and nearly scoring another before fumbling at the goal line. He played 36.5% of the offensive snaps and a third of the special-teams snaps and counted $482,000 against the cap with three starts and 22 receptions.
CB Ryan Lewis
Three starts for Lewis as the Bills scrambled to replace the abruptly-retied Vontae Davis, Lewis was claimed by Buffalo after he was released from the New England Patriots. He started a game, was waived, then eventually re-signed. At $423,525 it was a cheap stop-gap option.
QB Derek Anderson
Anderson was on vacation when the season began. Eventually he was signed to a veteran minimum contract to be the mentor for rookie quarterback Josh Allen but he ended up making two starts for Buffalo. When you compare his salary to other quarterback salaries, it was a great deal at just over $500,000.