What should the Buffalo Bills do at the fullback position this offseason? Should they keep veteran Patrick DiMarco, draft a replacement, sign a free agent, or just forego the position altogether?
We’ve put together a series of articles and now it’s your turn to vote! Read the article excerpts then let your voice be heard in the poll.
(By Jeff Kantrowski)
I like Patrick DiMarco more than most fans as I think he’s a reliable all-around blocker who provides enough receiving and rushing potential to add some value beyond the fullback role. And all of that is before you consider special teams value. The bottom line is that he’s a good player and you can always find a use for a good player.
The word “find” is important however. As noted above, a true fullback focusing on blocking is a specialty position already. While DiMarco’s additional skills offer value beyond the traditional fullback role, he’s not so good of a receiver that he can be used all the time. Like all role players, you need to game plan a usage that takes advantage of the player’s best attributes. In a nickel-and-dime offense focused on timing, Patrick DiMarco’s receiving value would be at its highest.
I’m not convinced that’s Buffalo, although Josh Allen did improve significantly in the short and intermediate range of the field. I’m also not sold on the Bills using a power running game effectively that would be helped by a fullback. Arguably, the team may want to find a specialist who better fits the strengths of the offense. On a pure talent basis, Patrick DiMarco should stay in Western New York as he’s a near-lock to provide more overall value than a fair few back of the roster players.
(By Matt Warren)
The only dead money on his salary-cap number is the $500,000 pro-rated portion of his signing bonus. You can likely add the $50,000 workout bonus to that list because without a roster bonus, that’s all it will take to keep him through the offseason.
2020 savings if cut: $1.85 million if released before workout bonus is earned
Contract extension projection excerpt
(By Matt Warren)
2 years, $4 million extension
$1.85 million fully guaranteed
This would be a really solid contract for both sides. Buffalo fully guarantees DiMarco’s existing 2020 salary, ensuring he’s on the roster this year. (That’s good for DiMarco.) In exchange, he gets two one-year team options for $2 million each in 2021 and 2022 with no guaranteed money or dead money beyond 2020. (That’s good for Buffalo.) No fuss, no muss and DiMarco likely finishes his career in Buffalo.
(By Sean Murphy)
Ham appeared on the second-highest number of offensive snaps among this year’s fullbacks, playing 359 snaps on that side of the ball. He touched the ball 24 times last season, catching 17 passes and rushing seven times, and he gained a first down on eight of those touches. The Minnesota Vikings also ran the ball more effectively with a fullback in, averaging 4.8 yards per carry with Ham leading the way (as compared to an overall YPC average of 4.5). Ham is a restricted free agent and, as big a part of Minnesota’s offense as he was, it’s entirely possible that they use a second-round tender on him, which would cost the team around $3.3 million.
This one is hard to predict, as Juszczyk technically isn’t a free agent—the San Francisco 49ers hold a club option, which if exercised would mean he counts $6.7 million against the salary cap for the 2020 season—but the NFC Champs have a ton of money sunk into the offensive backfield already. Juszczyk was a big part of their offense, as he paced all NFL fullbacks in offensive snaps (396) while missing four games due to a shoulder separation. He caught 20 of 24 targets for 239 yards and a touchdown, which was low given the fact that he had at least 30 catches and 300 yards in three of the last four seasons.
Having only appeared on 97 offensive snaps, it’s possible that the Kansas City Chiefs could deem him to be expendable; however, they’d have a huge hole to fill on their special teams, as Sherman played 310 snaps in that phase of the game, which covered 73% of the Chiefs’ total.
In his four-year career with the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers, Watt has more special teams tackles (34) than he does touches on offense (30), so signing him would be a move made primarily to bolster the special teams. At only 27 years old, Watt is younger than DiMarco (who turns 31 in April) and he’s better on special teams. If the Bills want to move on, this would be a good direction.
(By Andrew Griffin)
Connor Slomka (Army)
Any fullback hailing from one of the service academies is almost guaranteed to be physical and intelligent players on the field, and Slomka is no different. The 6’0”, 240-lb player has actually run for 658 yards and eight touchdowns in his career. When he moves to the NFL teams will look for him to transition to blocking full time. Although unlikely to be drafted due to his impending service, he may receive a waiver.
Now it’s your turn to vote. There are a bunch of options for you in the poll.
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What should the Bills do at fullback this offseason?
This poll is closed
Keep DiMarco on the final year of his deal
Extend DiMarco for two more years
Keep DiMarco, add a veteran free agent to battle
Cut DiMarco, add a veteran free agent
Keep DiMarco, draft a replacement or grab a UDFA to battle
Cut DiMarco, draft a replacement or grab a UDFA