This offseason, general manager Brandon Beane and the Buffalo Bills have plenty of decisions to make concerning their roster as they look to build off of consecutive AFC East championships.
For the second straight offseason, the Bills must decide whether they want to exercise the fifth-year option for a young building block on their defense. Last year, it was middle linebacker Tremaine Edmunds. This year, it is defensive tackle Ed Oliver, the ninth overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft out of Houston.
Oliver, the talented cog in defensive coordinator/assistant head coach Leslie Frazier’s system, just completed his third regular season with the Bills during the 2021 season.
If Beane’s comments during his year-ending press conference on January 26 are to be believed, the decision has already been made over what to do with Oliver’s fifth-year option. According to Beane, the Bills plan to pick up the fifth-year option on Oliver, who had been playing on his rookie contract with Buffalo.
“I thought he was our best, most consistent d-lineman all year from start to finish,” Beane said. “And I think he trended up all year. The game slowed down for Ed this year. And he was a huge factor in our success.”
Beane: Haven't looked at all the details, but plan to pick up 5th yr option on Ed Oliver this spring. #Bills— Chris Brown (@ChrisBrownBills) January 26, 2022
Teams could start exercising fifth-year player options on January 10, and Beane will have until May 2 to pick up Oliver’s fifth-year option, which would serve as an extension—keeping Oliver playing on his rookie deal through the 2023 season.
While Oliver has only recorded 13 sacks during his first three seasons, he has arguably had a huge impact on a Bills pass rush that led the NFL in sacks over the last month of the regular season.
In 2021, Oliver appeared in and started all 19 games for Buffalo, amassing five sacks with 16 quarterback hits and 46 total tackles, including 12 stops for a loss.
But Oliver’s productivity and his ability to wreak havoc as a pass rusher is about more than just how many times he brought down the quarterback, according to Beane.
“Ed really helped the back end with his disruption, having the quarterback get the ball out, or at least get him off the spot, having to throw on the move turns [a play] into an incompletion or an interception,” Beane said.