The Buffalo Bills have structured their depth at the linebacker position in a fairly clear way this offseason. The team has a tier of starters, a tier of rookies looking to make an impact on special teams before trying to earn more time, and a tier of veterans whose main purpose on the roster is to play special teams. While there is some crossover, the general distinctions hold.
In today’s installment of “90 players in 90 days,” we focus on a young linebacker who has persevered through multiple injuries, but he still has one hurdle to clear—preparing to be a starter in the NFL.
Name: Corey Thompson
Height/Weight: 6’1” 222 lbs.
Age: 25 (26 on 12/23/19)
Experience/Draft: 2; signed with Bills as UDFA following 2018 NFL Draft
Acquired: Signed as UDFA on 4/28/18
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Thompson’s contract is fairly standard for undrafted free agents. It spans three seasons at a total value of $1,710,000. For the 2019 season, he would count $570,000 against the cap if he were to make the roster. Since there are no guaranteed dollars on the contract, the Bills can release him at any time with no penalty.
2018 Recap: Thompson did not make the Bills’ roster out of training camp last year, but he was a member of the team’s practice squad, signing after he was waived on September 2. He remained on the practice squad until November 19, when the team promoted him to the active roster. He appeared in 6 games with Buffalo, and after Matt Milano suffered a broken leg, Thompson even started a game. In all, he appeared on 80 defensive snaps and 104 special teams snaps. Thompson made 14 tackles, including 1 for a loss, and he notched 1 forced fumble and 1 quarterback hit.
Positional outlook: Thompson is squarely in the second tier of linebackers on Buffalo’s roster, as he sits behind the starting group (Milano, Lorenzo Alexander, and Tremaine Edmunds) but in front of the rookie group (Vosean Joseph and Tyrel Dodson). Maurice Alexander, Julian Stanford, and Deon Lacey are the veterans who fill out the linebacking corp.
2019 Offseason: Thompson has participated in all offseason activities to date. When Lorenzo Alexander received a veteran rest day on July 28, it was Thompson who filled in for him with the starting group, so the coaching staff must like what he brings to the table in terms of his versatility and his ability.
2019 Season outlook: Thompson clearly has a solid case to make the final roster, as he was able to start at Milano’s weakside position last year and is seemingly being groomed to fill Alexander’s strongside position for the future. Head coach Sean McDermott specifically mentioned Maurice Alexander’s versatility as a benefit during his press conference July 28, and the emphasis on special teams suggests that guys like Lacey and Stanford are safe, but the team has some intriguing talent here at linebacker. Whether they go with six or seven at the position could go a long way towards determining who makes the final cut. Given his usage, Thompson is someone who certainly should not be counted out for that spot.