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Contract projection for Buffalo Bills kick returner Andre Roberts

What can he expect to make?

Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

Two years ago, the Buffalo Bills doled out a hefty contract to Andre Roberts, at least in comparison to other kick returners. Roberts doesn’t add much value in the passing game and has been targeted just 12 times combined in the last two seasons.

As we approach the COVID-shrunk salary cap in 2021, will the Bills be able to retain Roberts? On one hand, he’s a free agent coming off three straight Pro Bowls at his position and led the league in yards per kickoff return. On another hand, he just turned 33. How much longer can he keep doing this?

It’s difficult to compare kick returners from roster to roster. All-Pro kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson was targeted 25 times in the passing game this year. All-Pro punt returner Gunner Olszewski is on his rookie deal. So what can Roberts expect to make?

Comparable contracts

Andre Roberts
Buffalo Bills, 2018
Two years, $4.6 million

Buffalo gave Roberts $3 million guaranteed coming off an All-Pro season knowing he was just going to be their returner. It worked out okay for them, honestly.

League minimum

So, so, so many players who are kick returners are playing on their rookie deals. It’s a shocking number, really. Teams just don’t value the position enough to invest in second contracts. There aren’t other comparable contracts that are above league minimum. For Roberts, an 11-year veteran, his league minimum is $1.075 million in 2021. He would count just $850,000 on the salary cap and they could give him a signing bonus in the $137,500 range.

Contract projection

I don’t know how the Bills can justify a huge contract for Roberts while keeping several special teams players like Tyler Matakevich and trying to re-sign key free agents on their offense and defense. It’s just going to be very difficult.

One year, $1.5 million
Fully guaranteed

That splits the difference between league minimum and his last contract ($1.075 million to $2.3 million per season). They don’t get the veteran minimum benefit, so I lowered it a couple hundred grand. I fully guaranteed the money to help with that fact that it’s lower than his last deal, but I’m not sure the Bills will even be that generous. Again, it’s not because Roberts isn’t good and valuable. It’s a numbers game right now. They can add two veterans for $1.7 million in cap space or one Roberts.

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