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Opinion: I’m as shocked as you are that the Buffalo Bills won’t re-sign Matt Milano


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

A year ago, I fully anticipated that the Buffalo Bills would re-sign Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds in subsequent offseasons and be set at the linebacker position for the better part of a decade. As 2020 played out, I’m not convinced either of them are going to be here after 2021.

Milano had been nicked up in his first three years in Buffalo, which isn’t a huge deal, but lost considerable time to two different injuries in 2020. That’s concerning considering they will have to pay him $13 million per season or more to be their linebacker of the future. Yes, he is very good when he is on the field and is a lynchpin for Buffalo’s defense, but that didn’t prove to be enough in the AFC Championship Game.

If Milano had come back in that game and made a big difference, he’s probably getting that contract extension. He missed the first game of the year against the Kansas City Chiefs and the Bills were steamrolled. Then in the AFC Championship Game, Milano and Edmunds and the entire passing defense was outflanked on virtually every series. His presence wasn’t enough to even slow down the Chiefs, much less limit them.

For all those reasons, I’m probably going with a cheaper option this offseason if I’m Buffalo. General manager Brandon Beane wants to reward homegrown players and head coach Sean McDermott drafted Milano in his first offseason with the team, so this one is going to hurt. But this is what needs to happen if the franchise is going to go from team building to team sustaining. With the salary cap going down due to COVID-19 revenue shortfalls, Buffalo won’t have the money for everyone and unfortunately that’s going to start with Milano this offseason.

Further adding to the conversation, I think Buffalo keeps A.J. Klein as their veteran presence at the position while adding a player in the draft who could possibly take over for Klein during or after the 2021 season. That’s the tact they went with when they drafted Milano and kept him on the bench for a chunk of his rookie year before moving him into the starting role. The guaranteed salary on Klein’s contract makes him more likely to stick than Milano.

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