The Buffalo Bills prioritize special teams. They treat that phase as a valuable part of the game—as they should—and they do what they can to maintain a stable of strong players to cover kickoffs and punts.
The Bills have a host of talented players ready to contribute on special teams, and the competition for who remains in that phase of the game will be fierce. Especially at linebacker, Buffalo has more talented players than they do space to keep them.
In today’s edition of “90 players in 90 days,” we profile a linebacker who played on special teams for the Bills in 2021.
Name: Joe Giles-Harris
Height/Weight: 6’2” 240 lbs
Age: 25 (26 on 4/1/2023)
Acquired: Signed with Buffalo on 5/16/2021
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Giles-Harris signed a reserve/futures contract at the conclusion of the 2021 NFL season. That one-year deal is worth $895,000 for 2022, none of which is guaranteed.
2021 Recap: Giles-Harris did not make Buffalo’s roster out of camp, but he did sign with the team’s practice squad in September. He remained on the practice squad all year, but he appeared in two games as a call-up. Playing exclusively on special teams, Giles-Harris made two tackles on 42 special teams snaps.
Positional outlook: Giles-Harris remains part of a linebacker group that has a clear pecking order. Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano will play the majority of the snaps when healthy. Tyler Matakevich and Andre Smith are two essential special teams pieces. Terrel Bernard and Baylon Spector joined the club via the 2022 NFL Draft. Tyrel Dodson is a top reserve, and Von Miller is the newest pass-rushing specialist. Marquel Lee is another veteran looking to earn a spot as a special teams player.
2022 Offseason: Giles-Harris is healthy and ready for training camp.
2022 Season outlook: Eventually, I expect that the team will switch Von Miller’s position officially to defensive end. If we look at him that way, it means that six names in total are probably making the final roster, excluding Miller, from the group Buffalo has at present. With Milano and Edmunds locked in, and Bernard essentially a lock as a third-round pick, that’s half the names right there. Dodson has played when both Edmunds and Milano have gone down with injuries, so he’ll probably make the team again, as well. Matakevich and Smith played a huge role on special teams last year, and I’d be surprised if the Bills released either of them. If Giles-Harris is going to make the team, he’ll have to prove that he can be as effective as Matakevich, who is one of the best special teams players in the league. That’s pretty unlikely. I expect that Giles-Harris will be a priority practice squad signing again this summer.