The Buffalo Bills have, once again, remade their defensive line heading into the regular season. General manager Brandon Beane has shuffled the deck each year on both the interior and edge groups, trying to find the right combination of talent for head coach Sean McDermott and defensive coordinator/assistant head coach Leslie Frazier to deploy.
While many of the names and faces have changed, the depth chart at defensive end is fairly easy to assume given who is on the roster at present. We all know what they say about those who assume, to be fair. But when you watch the team as often as all of us who frequent this blog do, those assumptions are based on plenty of observations.
In today’s edition of “90 players in 90 days,” we discuss a member of the team who is among the longest shots to make the final roster.
Name: Mike Love
Height/Weight: 6’3” 255 lbs
Age: 28 (29 on 1/22/2023)
Experience/Draft: 2; signed with Buffalo following the 2018 NFL Draft
Acquired: UDFA signing
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Love signed a two-year reserve/futures contract worth a total of $1.775 million. If he makes the final roster, he’ll carry a cap hit of $830,000 this season. Buffalo gave him a $10,000 signing bonus, so that would be the dead-cap charge if the Bills were to release him at any point this season.
2021 Recap: Love played in one preseason game last year, and he didn’t record any statistics in that game. He was released at the end of the preseason. He signed with the team’s practice squad the following day, and he was not elevated for any games during the regular season. Love spent the year on the practice squad.
Positional outlook: Love is joined by some familiar faces, as A.J. Epenesa, Greg Rousseau, and Boogie Basham all return from last season. Old friend Shaq Lawson is back after a two-year sojourn around the AFC East. Kingsley Jonathan signed as a rookie free agent this year. Oh yeah, and the Bills added Von Miller, too, and while they list the future Hall of Famer as a linebacker, he’ll be playing more of an edge/defensive end role in Buffalo’s defense.
2022 Offseason: Love is healthy and he has participated in all OTAs to date.
2022 Season outlook: Love is the most-tenured defensive lineman on the roster, if you can believe it. In that way, he is a valuable reserve given his familiarity with the defense. He’s now been with Buffalo and the McDermott/Frazier regime longer even than Lawson. Even with that experience, he is well behind the projected top group of Basham, Epenesa, Miller, and Rousseau, with Lawson coming in at a solid fifth in that crew, as well. Love will probably remain on the practice squad if the Bills want him there, and I can’t see why they wouldn’t given his knowledge of the defense. He’s not going to make the final roster.