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Familiar faces in new places: When bitter rivals become Buffalo Bills

A few of the newest Bills remain in the AFC East following free agency

Much of fun for fans during the NFL offseason is finding out where players sign for the upcoming season. Some, like Buffalo Bills LB Von Miller, change several time zones and conferences. Players who jump conferences, or even just move to a different division always circle their calendars if their former team is on the schedule. Of course there are some who want a bit of revenge, perhaps choosing a rival team in their current division to exact payback twice a season. As with every team, the Bills’ roster for 2022 has its fair share of old faces in town for the season. Once bitter rivals, these players now bleed Buffalo Blue.

Friends in lower places

Wide receiver Jamison Crowder comes to the Bills via the Jersey Turnpike, having played previously with the New York Jets. For many in BillsMafia, this was a welcome signing in free agency. Crowder seemed to always play his best against the Bills. With his speed and elusiveness, the team often struggled tackling him in open space. Now, he’ll hopefully enact the same pressure on the league as the team’s slot receiver. For his career Crowder has 28 touchdowns—but here’s the important stat: Crowder has caught 63% of his passes the last three seasons with the Jets, which is great considering when you consider who played quarterback.

A well-traveled veteran

No one needs to be reminded of that heart-breaking playoff loss against the Houston Texans a few Januarys back. Perhaps most fans also remember RB Duke Johnson making a couple of key catches in overtime to seal the win for the Texans. What might have gotten less attention is that Johnson played with the Miami Dolphins during the 2021 season. A now well-traveled veteran (he began his career with the Cleveland Browns), Johnson will look to make the Bills’ final 53-man roster for the 2022 season. All told, Johnson should provide solid depth at the position after only appearing in five games last season. It’s no doubt that fans may be hoping to see more of the 2019 version of Duke Johnson who had almost 1000 yards from scrimmage.

Houston—>Miami—>Buffalo, Part Deux

Center Greg Mancz has also landed in Buffalo, perhaps looking to cool off after his stint in South Beach. Mancz has seven years of experience in the league—though the last couple he didn’t see a lot of game action. Before joining the Dolphins, Mancz proved to be a reliable starter for the Texans. For the Bills, Mancz should provide a solid reserve option to starting center Mitch Morse.

Summer always seems to fan the flames of anticipation for sweet revenge. For this trio of new Bills, they’ll look to fuel Buffalo to a pair of wins against their former teams.