The Buffalo Bills have been called the Carolina Panthers of the north at times, as they have filled out their roster with those who played for general manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott when the two were together in Carolina. While that hasn’t always been a completely fair assessment, the fact remains that most NFL staffs will default to players they know well in a pinch.
So, when some Bills players were injured early in the preseason, it came as little surprise that Buffalo signed players with connections to “McBeane” to replace those players on the roster. In today’s edition of “90 players in 90 days,” we profile a veteran cornerback looking to make an impact on another Sean McDermott-led defense.
Name: Captain Munnerlyn
Height/Weight: 5’9” 195 lbs.
Age: 31 (32 on 4/10/20)
Experience/Draft: 11; drafted in the seventh round (216 overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers
College: South Carolina
Acquired: Signed with Bills on 8/10/19
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Munnerlyn’s contract details have yet to be made public, but the assumption is that he signed a one-year deal at the veteran’s minimum. For his level of experience, that minimum salary is $1,030,000. He qualifies for the veteran’s minimum exception, so Buffalo would only be charged $645,000 against the cap, plus any guarantees worked into the contract (if there are any). In short, the contract likely isn’t one that will break the bank.
2018 Recap: Munnerlyn spent the year with the Panthers, and he was able to play in all 16 games for the first time since 2015. He had 47 tackles, two sacks, nine pass breakups, one interception, three tackles for loss, and one fumble recovery on the season. He appeared on 630 defensive snaps for the Panthers, which was around 63% of the team’s defensive total.
Positional outlook: Munnerlyn was brought in to replace veteran E.J. Gaines, who was placed on injured reserve due to a groin injury suffered in practice. He’ll look to compete for a spot across Tre’Davious White with Levi Wallace and Kevin Johnson. Munnerlyn’s primary use is as a slot corner, where Taron Johnson is the presumed starter, but he could be a nice depth piece behind the second-year man. Siran Neal, drafted as a safety, has been working as the second slot corner. The other corners on the roster at present are Denzel Rice, Lafayette Pitts, Ryan Lewis, and Cam Lewis.
2019 Offseason: Munnerlyn has participated in practice and preseason games since signing with the Bills. He joined just in time for joint practices against his former team, Carolina, which led to some good-natured jawing between Munnerlyn and his former teammates. He was mixed in with the starters.
2019 Season outlook: Munnerlyn has the best chance of all the late additions to make the 53-man roster. His versatility in the defensive secondary combined with his knowledge of the scheme gives him a leg up on other camp-fillers. He’s also a tremendously durable player, having only missed six games since the beginning of the 2009 season. With Gaines already injured, the Bills have a pair of players (Kevin and Taron Johnson) who don’t have a long history of staying healthy. Munnerlyn is a sneaky-good addition to an already strong secondary.