The Buffalo Bills have revamped their defensive line over the last few years, and even when things felt settled, general manager Brandon Beane has shown a willingness to continue trying to improve. Consider last year’s group: The Bills had two veterans, Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison, sitting atop a retooled depth chart. This year, neither Hughes nor Addison returns, as both signed with the Houston Texans.
The Bills have an exciting young core at defensive end, as well as a future Hall of Fame pass rusher who is currently listed as a linebacker. It’s not a group that will be easy to break into, as the team appears to be strong on the edge.
In today’s edition of “90 players in 90 days,” we focus on one of those young players—an undrafted free agent looking to catch on a couple hours away from where he played his college ball.
Name: Kingsley Jonathan
Height/Weight: 6’4” 260 lbs
Age: 24 (25 on 4/28/2023)
Experience/Draft: R; signed with Buffalo as UDFA following 2022 NFL Draft
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Jonathan signed a three-year contract worth a total of $2.57 million. Of that total, just $10,000 is guaranteed. If he makes the final roster this year, Jonathan carries a cap hit of $708,333 for the season.
2021 Recap: As a senior at Syracuse, Jonathan totaled 20, 5.5 tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks. Three of those sacks came in one game, as he notched the eighth-most sacks in a single game in Orange history on that date. He won the Joseph Alexander Award at Syracuse, which is given to a football player for excellence in academics, citizenship, and football. He started one game, but he appeared in all 12 of Syracuse’s games last year.
Positional outlook: Jonathan joins a crowded field at defensive end, as second-year players Greg Rousseau and Boogie Basham look to capitalize on the open snaps as a result of Hughes and Addison departing. Third-year man A.J. Epenesa is in that mix, too, as is Von Miller, whom the team lists as a linebacker but is a player who will probably line up at defensive end more often than not. Shaq Lawson re-signed this offseason, and Mike Love remains on the roster, as well.
2022 Offseason: Jonathan is healthy and he participated in rookie minicamp. He’s ready to go for training camp.
2022 Season outlook: Barring something crazy, Jonathan is vying for a spot on the practice squad, not the active roster. Rousseau, Basham, and Epenesa figure to be the top three in the rotation, with Miller playing end often enough to round out the top four. That leaves the veteran Lawson as even a potential odd man out. Jonathan’s real battle is with Mike Love for a spot on the practice squad.