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Contract projection for Buffalo Bills safety Jordan Poyer

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He’s not a free agent until next offseason, but the Bills should be looking to get something done now.

Jordan Poyer was one of the first free-agent signings under Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott. He brought in Poyer to pair with Micah Hyde as the team’s safety tandem. Both were undervalued and it was surprising how much the Bills committed to Poyer with that contract. Fast forward a few years, and it turns out both Hyde and Poyer were underpaid.

Poyer’s contract is up first, though, and he’s a free agent after the 2020 season. He turns 29 this offseason and should have a few very good years left in the tank after the age of 30.

His success isn’t going to come cheap for the Bills, and he’s going to want to be well-compensated. It may be a good idea to do this deal before handing out huge dollars to Tre’Davious White for Poyer and his team to look at, too.

Here are some comparable contracts:

Micah Hyde
2017 Buffalo Bills
Five years, $30.5 million with $10.3 million guaranteed

If you don’t think the first contract they are going to look at is this one, you’re crazy. Buffalo is not going to sign Poyer for less money than Hyde. Not after three years of playing at such a high level. To go a step further, Hyde is scheduled to have a cap hit of $6.75 million in 2020, so that’s a number to consider.

Lamarcus Joyner
2019 Oakland Raiders
Four years, $42 million with $16.7 million guaranteed

Joyner had just one pick and three passes defended for the Raiders in 2018, but his 78 tackles and one sack were enough to get him a massive contract in Oakland. To compare to Poyer, the Bills safety had more tackles, more sacks, more interceptions, and was on the field for a higher percentage of snaps. Neither has ever been selected to a Pro Bowl and Joyner was 28 when he signed the deal.

If I’m Poyer’s camp, I’m pointing to this deal as many times as I can. It’s essentially a two-year, $22 million deal with team options of $10 million in salary in each of the last two years of the deal.

Eric Reid
2019 Carolina Panthers
Three years, $22 million with $9 million guaranteed

After a one-year, $1.4 million prove-it deal in 2018, he signed this bigger deal in 2019. Reid was a little bit younger when he signed his deal last offseason, but he was on pace for Poyer-like numbers in 2018 if he hadn’t missed three games. In addition to the money listed, he can earn per-game bonuses totaling almost $2 million in the three seasons. This is the contract the Bills will be highlighting over and over again.


Contract projection

Three-year extension past 2020
$29 million in new money including $15.785 million newly-guaranteed

This is a tricky contract extension, necessitating some larger-than-I-like roster bonuses and per-game active bonuses in order to abide by the 30% rule that’s in place for the final year of the CBA. With his current $2.95 million salary number in 2020, his salary in 2021 could only be $3.835 million, $4.985 million in 2022, and $6.48 million in 2023.

A new $4 million signing bonus and $4 million roster bonus would get Poyer some cash right away and be a majority of the guaranteed money. Splitting it into a roster bonus, which is counted in 2020, instead of a signing bonus helps the Bills have cap flexibility down the line and makes it easier to get out from under the deal at any point in the future.

Poyer’s 2020 salary would also now be guaranteed as would his 2021 season. A very reasonable guaranteed base salary in 2021 coupled with the roster bonus would keep him here through his 30th birthday but the Bills have outs after that.

The extension’s AAV would put Poyer into the upper echelon of safeties in the NFL ahead of Devin McCourty into tenth place in the league. He won’t set the market at safety, which is $14.6 million per season, but it’s a solid contract.

From the Bills’ perspective, they are getting a top-notch safety on what amounts effectively to a four-year, $32 million deal. On the shorter term, you can look at it as a two-year, $17.1 million deal or a three-year, $23.87 million deal and still be pretty happy having Poyer on the roster.

Yearly breakdowns:

2020
Old Signing Bonus: $875,000
New pro-rated signing bonus: $1 million
Roster Bonus: $4 million (guaranteed)
Workout Bonus: $100,000
Base Salary: $2.95 million (fully guaranteed)
New per-game active bonus: $500,000 ($31,250 per game)
Cap hit: $9.425 million

2021
Pro-Rated Signing Bonus: $1 million
Roster Bonus: $1 million (fully guaranteed)
Workout Bonus: $250,000
Base Salary: $3.835 million (fully guaranteed)
Per-game active bonus: $500,000 ($31,250 per game)
Cap hit: $6.585 million

2022
Pro-Rated Signing Bonus: $1 million
Roster Bonus: $1 million
Workout Bonus: $250,000
Base Salary: $4.985 million
Per-game active bonus: $500,000 ($31,250 per game)
Cap hit: $7.735 million
Dead cap if cut: $2 million before roster bonus
Cap savings if cut: $5.735 million

2023
Pro-Rated Signing Bonus: $1 million
Roster Bonus: $1 million
Workout Bonus: $250,000
Base Salary: $6.43 million
Per-game active bonus: $500,000 ($31,250 per game)
Cap hit: $9.18 million
Dead cap if cut: $1 million before roster bonus
Cap savings if cut: $8.18 million