Rafael Bush played a vital role as a reserve for the Buffalo Bills in 2018. He was a backup safety, but by the end of the year, he was also the team’s nickel corner thanks to multiple injuries (and plenty of ineffective play) at the corner position. So, when the veteran decided just before the opening of training camp that it was time to retire, the Bills had to act swiftly to find a replacement.
They found a perfect veteran to replace Bush—one who has plenty of experience working with head coach Sean McDermott. In today’s installment of “90 players in 90 days,” we profile that veteran addition.
Name: Kurt Coleman
Height/Weight: 5’11” 208 lbs.
Age: 31 (32 on 7/1/20)
College: Ohio State
Acquired: Signed with Bills on 7/19/19
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Coleman signed a one-year deal with the Bills worth a total of $930,000. Thanks to the veteran’s minimum exception, he will only carry a $645,000 cap hit if he makes the 53-man roster. Since none of the contract is guaranteed, the Bills can cut him prior to the beginning of the season at no cap penalty. If he is on the roster for the first week, the entirety of his salary becomes guaranteed for the season.
2018 Recap: Coleman signed a three-year contract in the offseason to suit up for the New Orleans Saints. While he played in all 16 games for the first time in his career, he made only nine starts in New Orleans—his lowest total since the 2014 season as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs. As a result, his numbers plummeted. Coleman registered 32 tackles and one forced fumble on the year, and New Orleans released him in February—less than one calendar year after signing that three-year deal.
Positional outlook: Coleman is vying for time behind starters Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde. His primary competition is Siran Neal, who has played mostly nickel corner this offseason, and rookie Jaquan Johnson. Veteran Dean Marlowe is another option at safety, as is undrafted rookie Abraham Wallace.
2019 Offseason: Coleman has participated in training camp, running mostly with the second unit.
2019 Season outlook: Given his familiarity with McDermott’s defense and his success within it (in the 30 games he started with the Carolina Panthers when McDermott was defensive coordinator, he tallied 118 tackles, two sacks, 11 interceptions, six tackles for loss, 16 pass breakups, and one forced fumble), Coleman should be considered a near-lock for the 53-man roster. A one-year deal with a familiar face on the coaching staff is a good bet for a player, as a rebound season from Coleman could be parlayed into another two- or three-year contract on the open market, but it’s also a smart bet from a coach’s standpoint. Reserves should be able to fill in at a moment’s notice, and while Coleman may not be the same type of dynamic player that Hyde or Poyer is, he’s a better overall fit for the defense than Bush was. In that way, Coleman’s presence on the roster is an upgrade for the roster’s overall depth.