The Buffalo Bills have done little to add to their defensive front seven this offseason, choosing instead to focus on other areas of greater need. While the team seems content to roll with the players they have on the edge, the need to improve their pass rush is obvious, as the defense has finished no higher than 26th in the NFL in sacks during head coach Sean McDermott’s tenure.
In today’s edition of our “90 players in 90 days” series, we profile one of the team’s young edge-rushers—a man who has worked his way up from the bottom of the depth chart and is still hungry for more time.
Name: Mike Love
Height/Weight: 6’3” 255 lbs.
Age: 25 (26 on 1/22/20)
Experience/Draft: 1; signed with Bills as UDFA on 4/28/18
Acquired: Signed as UDFA; signed to practice squad on 9/2/18 after being cut at end of preseason
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Love enters the second year of a three-year contract signed in April 2018. The total worth of the contract is $1,710,000, and there are no guarantees. Should he make the 53-man roster, his cap hit for 2019 is $570,000
2018 Recap: Love spent the offseason with Buffalo, but he did not make the team out of camp. He was immediately signed to the team’s practice squad, which is where he remained until December. The team signed him to its active roster on December 5, but he did not make his NFL debut until December 16 against the Detroit Lions. Love played in the team’s final three games, totaling five tackles on 48 defensive snaps. He also appeared on 29 special-teams snaps.
Positional outlook: Love finds himself in a tight contest for the final defensive end spot on the roster. Jerry Hughes, Trent Murphy, and Shaq Lawson appear to be firmly entrenched as the top-three on the depth chart, so Love will battle Eddie Yarbrough, Eli Harold, and Darryl Johnson for one or two spots on the 53-man roster.
2019 Offseason: Love has participated in all offseason activities to date. In his most recent 53-man roster projection, Joe Buscaglia notes that Love began on the third-team defense, but has moved up to the second-team recently, surpassing Yarbrough in the lineup.
2019 Season outlook: While Love’s increase in snaps is a positive development, I still think his spot on the roster is tenuous at best. The Bills would be wise to search the league’s list of cuts for pass-rush help at the end of August, so even if Love makes the 53-man initially, he may be one of the first to go should the team add another player. Based solely on athleticism and potential alone, I think that I’d go with Harold as my fourth defensive end, but Love has a chance to prove his worth—and it appears that he may already have surpassed the team’s fourth defensive end from last year in Yarbrough. The battle for the back end of the defensive-end depth chart will be one to monitor this offseason, and Love stands a chance at making the team out of camp this year.