Making an NFL roster as an undrafted free agent is a difficult task. When that undrafted rookie joins a team like the Buffalo Bills, who finished second in their conference and return the majority of their starters, that difficult task becomes even harder.
That’s not to say that undrafted rookies don’t make rosters like Buffalo’s, especially at positions where there isn’t much depth. A strong preseason showing and a willingness to play special teams could go a long way.
In our latest installment of “90 players in 90 days,” we profile a UDFA looking to crack the roster.
Name: Tariq Thompson
Height/Weight: 5’11” 210 lbs
Age: 21 (22 on 8/9/2021)
Experience/Draft: R; signed with Bills as UDFA on 4/21/202
College: San Diego State
Acquired: Signed as UDFA
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Thompson signed a three-year deal worth $2.425 million. There is no guaranteed money on the contract. For the 2021 season, Thompson’s cap hit would be $660,000 if he makes the final roster.
2020 Recap: Thompson played in eight games during his senior year, totaling 41 tackles, three pass breakups, 1.5 tackles for loss, and one interception. It was the weakest season of his career, as he had played in 13 games during each of his prior three collegiate seasons. He finished his Aztecs career with 35 pass breakups and 12 interceptions.
Positional outlook: Thompson joins a positional group with a clear hierarchy. The starters are among the best in the league (Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde), and the other players are young and fighting for a spot behind them. Aside from Thompson, Buffalo has Jaquan Johnson, Damar Hamlin, and Josh Thomas on the roster.
2021 Offseason: Thompson is healthy and participating in OTAs.
2021 Season outlook: The top two spots on the depth chart are set in stone, but after that it’s anyone’s guess. I’d imagine that Johnson is safe, given that he is the only player with NFL game experience on the current roster behind Hyde and Poyer. Thompson will have to beat out last year’s UDFA signing (Thomas) and a 2021 draft choice (Hamlin) in order to make the final roster, as I assume the Bills will keep just four safeties. It’s an uphill climb for sure, but it’s not impossible.