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State of the Buffalo Bills’ roster: Specialists

In the final installment of our series, we look at the special teams

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo Bills Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Bills have an outstanding kicker. They have an outstanding long snapper. And, they also have a punter.

Two out of three ain’t bad, I suppose. The Bills have emphasized special teams since head coach Sean McDermott arrived, and while the team either didn’t trust the unit enough to cover a kickoff or endured a communication breakdown during the soul-crushing, season-ending loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, it remains true that the Bills have a pretty clear path to greatness in the game’s third phase.

In our final installment of our state of the Bills’ roster series, we examine the core specialists.

K Tyler Bass

Contract status for 2022: Signed; third year of four-year rookie contract ($941,054 cap hit; $92,110 dead cap if cut or traded)
Age: 25 (26 on 2/14/2023)
Playing time: 17 games, 182 special teams snaps (42% of team total)
Key statistics: 28/32 (87.5%) on field goals, 51/51 (100%) on extra points, 1 tackle

Bass hit the same number of field goals as he did in his rookie year, but he did so on two fewer attempts. He is just as accurate from close range as he is long-distance, as he’s made six field goals of over 50 yards in his two-year career. As a rookie, Bass had some issues in extra-point range, missing two PAT attempts in addition to three field goal attempts between 30 and 39 yards. He only missed one such field goal this past season. With a booming leg and phenomenal accuracy, Bass is a premier kicker in the league in one of the NFL’s toughest places to kick.

LS Reid Ferguson

Contract status for 2022: Signed; first year of three-year contract extension ($1.035 million cap hit; $0 dead cap)
Age: 27 (28 on 3/24/2022)
Playing time: 17 games, 139 special teams snaps (32% of team total)
Key statistics: 1 tackle

Ferguson is a savvy, reliable veteran at this point—someone who always puts the ball where it needs to be. It doesn’t hurt that he’s a beloved figure in the locker room, either. While his contract has no guaranteed money, I can’t imagine a scenario where Buffalo releases him at any point over the course of the next three years.

P Matt Haack

Contract status for 2022: Signed; second year of three-year contract ($1.9 million cap hit; $700,000 dead cap if cut or traded)
Age: 27 (28 on 7/25/2022)
Playing time: 17 games, 140 special teams snaps (32% of team total)
Key statistics: 52 punts, 42.9 gross yards per punt, 37.6 net yards per punt, 18 punts inside the 20

Haack came to Buffalo as a free agent, and he did not impress in his first season in Orchard Park. There was some good, though, as only Johnny Hekker of the Los Angeles Rams allowed fewer punt-return yards than Haack did among punters with more than 50 punts. Haack’s punts were returned for just 96 yards on the season, a sign of solid hang time and a great coverage unit. He was second-to-last among qualifiers in net-yards-per-punt average, however, so his boots rarely allowed the Bills to gain much advantage in terms of field position. This is absolutely a spot where the team is looking to upgrade, and frankly, I will be shocked if Haack is still on the roster in May, never mind training camp.

Buffalo is set at kicker. Buffalo is set at long snapper. And, while Haack is a great holder and probably a very nice guy, his job should absolutely be in jeopardy given his subpar performance in the main forum, which is actually punting the ball away. The Bills seem to prefer left-footed punters, as Haack, former punter Corey Bojorquez, and December practice-squad signee Jamie Gillan all kick lefty. So does Matt Araiza, also known as the “punt god,” out of San Diego State. Normally, I wouldn’t advocate drafting a punter, but when the talent and the need line up that perfectly, it wouldn’t make me upset to bring Araiza to Buffalo.