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91 players in 91 days: Linebacker Corey Thompson

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Can the special teamer earn a larger role in the wake of Lorenzo Alexander’s departure?

NFL: Preseason-Minnesota Vikings at Buffalo Bills Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Bills have 495 defensive snaps and 235 special teams snaps to replace this year in the wake of Lorenzo Alexander’s retirement. With such a versatile player, not all of those snaps on defense came at one position, as Alexander moved from linebacker to defensive tackle at various points.

The Bills added some players to the linebacker group from outside the organization, but they still have some holdovers from previous seasons among the players vying for Alexander’s snaps. There are plenty of young players at linebacker who will have a chance to earn more time this season.

In today’s installment of “91 players in 91 days,” we profile one of those young linebackers.


Name: Corey Thompson
Number: 52
Position: LB
Height/Weight: 6’1”, 222 lbs.
Age: 26 (27 on 12/23/2020)
Experience/Draft: 2; undrafted in 2018 NFL Draft
College: LSU
Acquired: Signed as UDFA with Bills on 4/28/18

Financial situation (per Spotrac): Thompson enters the final year of his three-year rookie contract, a pact which totals $1,710,000 overall. In 2020, Thompson will carry a cap hit of $750,000 if he makes the final roster. No money in the contract is guaranteed.

2019 Recap: After debuting late in the 2018 season, Thompson made the Bills’ roster out of camp last year. He served as one of the team’s primary special teams players for the majority of the season, and he would have played even more snaps had he not suffered an ankle injury that required surgery prior to Buffalo’s Week 4 loss against the New England Patriots. Thompson missed Buffalo’s next four games, returning against Washington in Week 9. He finished up the year playing on 188 special teams snaps, eighth-most on the team, and 57 defensive snaps, all of which came in Week 17 against the New York Jets. He made seven tackles on the season, one for a loss.

Positional outlook: Thompson will compete with A.J. Klein, Vosean Joseph, Tyrel Dodson, Mike Bell, and Del’Shawn Phillips for the starting spot vacated by Alexander. Tyler Matakevich has been floated as a backup to middle linebacker Tremaine Edmunds. Matt Milano is the final linebacker on the roster.

2020 Offseason: Nothing new to report.

2020 Season outlook: While Thompson may have an outside shot at serving as the team’s third linebacker, that role is almost certain to be filled by Klein, who signed an $18 million contract in March. If the starting group is Milano, Edmunds, and Klein, then Thompson will look to fill in the reserve roles, most likely with Matakevich and Joseph. While Thompson’s extensive injury history is worrisome, the team has given him plenty of opportunity over the last two years, and he has performed fairly well when given those chances. He’s not a roster lock, but as a core special teams player with some ability to fill in on defense, he is someone who I’d expect to see on the roster in September.