The Buffalo Bills have two of the league’s best safeties sitting atop their depth chart. With that kind of strength at a position, it makes figuring out the pecking order at the position quite easy: It’s those guys and then it’s everybody else.
The veterans at the top, though, are over 30 years old, and one of them is in the final year of his contract. A greater-than-usual spotlight could shine on the reserve safeties as a result.
In today’s edition of “90 players in 90 days,” we highlight one of those reserve safeties—a young player looking to make his mark behind two studs.
Name: Damar Hamlin
Height/Weight: 6’ 200 lbs
Age: 24 (25 on 3/24/2023)
Experience/Draft: 2; selected in the sixth round (No. 212 overall) of the 2021 NFL Draft by Buffalo
Acquired: Sixth-round draft choice
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Hamlin enters the second year of his four-year rookie deal, a pact worth a total of $3,640,476. For the 2022 season, Hamlin carries a cap hit of $865,119 if he makes the final roster.
2021 Recap: Hamlin made the Bills’ roster as a rookie, and he spent most of his playing time as a member of the special teams units. In the 14 games where he played, he only appeared on 50 defensive snaps. Most of those came in lopsided games, both wins (Buffalo’s 35-0 win over the Miami Dolphins and 40-0 win over the Houston Texans, where he played snaps in each game, and their 45-17 win over the New York Jets, where he played nine) and losses (Buffalo’s 41-15 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, where he played seven). He appeared on 35% of the team’s special teams snaps, good for 125 snaps overall. He registered two tackles in the regular season. In Buffalo’s 47-17 dismantling of the New England Patriots in the playoffs, he played 15 snaps on defense and nine on special teams. He had a tackle in that game.
Positional outlook: Hamlin’s positional group looks awfully familiar, as Micah Hyde, Jordan Poyer, Jaquan Johnson, and Josh Thomas all return from last year. Cornerback Christian Benford, drafted by Buffalo in the sixth round of the 2022 NFL Draft, has some positional versatility, as does Siran Neal. Both are primarily corners and special teamers, however.
2022 Offseason: Hamlin is healthy and ready for training camp.
2022 Season outlook: I don’t expect any change here this year, as the quartet of Hyde, Poyer, Johnson, and Hamlin should probably make the final roster again barring something odd. Poyer and Johnson are both in the last year of their respective contracts, however, so it’s possible that this is a “last hurrah” of sorts for the safety group. With that in mind, continued growth out of Hamlin is essential for the young man if he wants to show that he can be a full-time player in this defense. He’ll have chances to show out in the preseason and all throughout camp.