There are several positions on the Buffalo Bills’ roster where they can promote from within if they lose a player to free agency. The 3-tech defensive tackle position is not one of them.
Last offseason, the team negotiated a contract restructure with Vernon Butler that made him a free agent at the end of 2021 and they released Quinton Jefferson when he wouldn’t take a pay cut. That meant both wouldn’t be on the team in 2022. With Justin Zimmer also on a one-year deal, the Bills knew they would be limited at 3-tech in the future, but they plugged their other holes and soldiered on in 2021. Now the bill must be paid.
Ed Oliver played 58% of the snaps at 3-tech and started every game, Butler played 26.4%, Zimmer at 14.9% before his season-ending injury sidelined him. A handful of the 3-tech snaps went to defensive ends kicking inside, as well. In short, Ed Oliver was the man at 3-tech defensive tackle, playing more than twice as many defensive tackle snaps than either of his backups.
But now all those backups aren’t on the team. Oliver needs a running mate, but not necessarily a guy built for a 50-50 split. Zimmer may not be fully recovered from his surgery until the season starts and Butler is as good as gone. Buffalo needs to look outside their own building.
- All-22 Analysis: Ed Oliver is already the unquestioned starter
- Bills need bodies to back up Ed Oliver
- With fifth-year option, both sides will wait on new contract for Oliver
- Free agents at defensive tackle the Bills could add
- 2022 NFL Draft: Picking some depth options at 3-tech
- Opinion: Give yourself options behind Ed Oliver this offseason