Under head coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane, the Buffalo Bills have placed a great deal of emphasis on special teams. Buffalo routinely carries backups whose sole purpose is to play in the game’s “third phase,” which isn’t necessarily uncommon, but it’s a welcome commitment to that unit.
Sometimes, keeping those players who only play special teams limits what the team can do in terms of spots on the game-day roster. In today’s edition of “91 players in 91 days,” we profile one of Buffalo’s specialists who may keep another veteran reserve off the field—or even off of the roster.
Name: Taiwan Jones
Height/Weight: 6’, 195 lbs.
Age: 31 (32 on 7/26/2020)
Experience/Draft: Selected by the Oakland (now Las Vegas) Raiders in the fourth round (No. 125 overall) of the 2011 NFL Draft
College: Eastern Washington
Acquired: Signed as free agent with Bills on 3/30/2020
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Jones signed a one-year contract this offseason. That pact is worth a total of $1.75 million, of which $700,00 is guaranteed. As a vested veteran, the entirety of Jones’s base salary ($1.05 million) also becomes guaranteed if he’s on the roster for Week 1.
2019 Recap: Jones left the Bills after having spent the 2017 and 2018 seasons with the team, signing with the Houston Texans. He was a solid special teams contributor for Bill O’Brien’s bunch, making nine tackles in that phase of the game. Jones also added nine carries for 40 yards and a reception for nine yards during the regular season. Those carries were the first for Jones since he was a member of the Raiders in 2016, when he carried once for an eight-yard loss. In the Wild Card Playoffs, Jones made a 34-yard catch that proved to be the death knell in Buffalo’s season, setting up Ka’imi Fairbairn’s game-winning 28-yard field goal.
Positional outlook: Jones is a running back, but like Senorise Perry last year and Jones himself the two years before that, his primary function is on the special teams unit. Buffalo’s other running backs include Devin Singletary, Zack Moss, T.J. Yeldon, Christian Wade, and Antonio Williams.
2020 Offseason: Nothing new to report.
2020 Season outlook: After having one of the oldest running back groups in the league for the last few years, Buffalo has swung in the complete opposite direction, with only Jones (32 this summer) and Wade (who just turned 29) over the age of 26. Barring injury, Jones should be considered as safe a roster lock as Singletary and Moss, albeit in an entirely different role. The question becomes whether the team will keep a fourth active running back on game days, like Yeldon, or if they’ll go with four on the roster and designate one a game-day inactive like they did last season. Either way, Jones will be a mainstay on Buffalo’s special teams once again in 2020.