The Buffalo Bills kickoff and punt return units were terrible in 2018. Isaiah McKenzie was fumbling the ball and five players returned punts for them. Five men lined up deep on kickoff returns that year, too.
Ultimately, Danny Crossman was fired and Heath Farwell was hired. That didn’t solve the problem, though. Buffalo also made an investment in All-Pro returner Andre Roberts. They signed him to a big-money deal for two years and $4.6 million to handle their returner duties. That’s a rich deal for someone who they weren’t planning on using in the offense at all.
Fast forward to 2021 and the Bills have no viable options on their roster to replace Roberts, who was a team captain in 2020. With COVID-19 shrinking the NFL’s salary cap and big-money free agents on both sides of the ball, it might make sense to move on from Roberts.
I, for one, want them to figure it out.
If the Bills grabbed a rookie to plug in, they would certainly be saving money, but Roberts consistently set them up with good field position on punts and kickoffs. He led the league in average kickoff return again last offseason and was voted to the Pro Bowl for the third straight year.
Yes, he had three fumbles in 2020 after just one a year ago. Yes, he is 33. Yes, he’s going to be twice as expensive as a rookie returner. Yes, I think they should get a deal done in the low-to-mid-$1 million range.
I wouldn’t offer him the same deal he signed two years ago, but I would try to bring him back into the fold for 2021.
- Analysis: What does Andre Roberts bring to the roster?
- Contract projection for free-agent returner Andre Roberts
- Bills have very limited roster experience returning kickoffs, punts
- Free-agent returners the Bills could target this offseason
- Returners are available in the 2021 NFL Draft
- Opinion: Bills should find a way to re-sign Andre Roberts