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State of the Buffalo Bills roster: specialists

2/3 are under contract, and I wouldn’t mind making it a perfect 3/3

Miami Dolphins v Buffalo Bills Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills are in a good place as it relates to their specialists. They have an excellent young kicker, an excellent young long snapper, and an excellent punter who, while older than the other two guys, is still young for a player at his position.

With that in mind, this may be one of the quicker, drier reviews in our State of the Bills roster series, but it’s one that we’ll go through nonetheless. I know that I said this would be the last one in our previous entry, but I somehow forgot an extremely important positional group: the receivers. That will be our last installment, and it will drop in a few days.

For now, friends, let’s talk special teams!

K Tyler Bass

Contract status for 2023: Signed; final year of four-year rookie contract ($1,056,056 cap hit; $46,056 dead-cap charge if cut or traded)

Age: 26 (27 on 2/14/24)

Playing time: 16 games, 173 special teams snaps (42.2% of team total)

Key statistics: 27/31 on field goals (87%), 48/50 on extra points (96%), 92 kickoffs, 43 touchbacks

Buffalo’s 2020 sixth-round draft pick has been nothing short of fantastic throughout his career, and in 2022, Bass continued making moves towards entering the “best kickers in the league” discussion. He’s a weapon from the second the team crosses midfield, and his ability to hang high, deep kickoffs allows Buffalo’s coverage team to pin teams inside their 25-yard line consistently. He’s a candidate for a contract extension, though I’m not sure it makes much sense to do that right away given the team’s precarious cap situation. I don’t foresee a scenario where Bass is elsewhere, however, as it’s clear that the team values him, and his performance has been stellar.

LS Reid Ferguson

Contract status for 2023: Signed; second year of three-year contract ($1,080,000 cap hit; $0 dead-cap charge if cut or traded)

Age: 28 (29 on 3/24/23)

Playing time: 16 games, 127 special teams snaps (30.98%)

Key statistics: 1 tackle, 1 false start penalty

Ferguson is a great locker-room guy, and his on-field performance has been great, as well. Do you ever notice him during a punt, extra point, or field goal? If the answer is no, then you know he’s doing his job well.

P Sam Martin

Contract status for 2023: Unsigned; UFA

Age: 33 (34 on 2/27/24)

Playing time: 16 games, 128 special teams snaps (31.22% of team total)

Key statistics: 45 punts, 47.7 yards per punt gross, 42.1 yards per punt net, 5 touchbacks, 16 punts inside the 20, 1 punt blocked

Martin wasn’t Plan A at punter, but he was very good nonetheless. As a holder, Martin showed no signs of poor performance, and with Bass’ continued success, it tells me that he was quite good at that part of his job. As for the actual part of his job, Martin was a big step forward from Matt Haack. I hope that the team looks to keep him in Buffalo for the next few years.

Well, this was easy. The Bills have three solid performers at the specialist positions, and they should look to ensure that all three remain for next year and beyond. Working out a contract extension with Bass, preferably one that doesn’t change his 2023 cap number, would be the priority here, as he is absolutely worth a top-five kicker commitment at this point in his career. That would put him at an AAV of around $4.6 million moving forward. That feels like a lot for a kicker, but it’s a drop in the bucket for the peace of mind that comes with having someone who’s nearly automatic at that position.

With Ferguson locked up for two more seasons, that leaves punter as the only position in flux, and I don’t think the team should overthink it. Martin was very good this past season, he’s still fairly young for a punter, and he was a good holder for Bass. There’s no need to fix what isn’t broken, and if he can be had for two years at a relatively low cap number, it’s well worth bringing him back next year.

Just a programming note — we are discussing players by their primary position on the roster, not their primary role, which is why return men like Nyheim Hines and special teams-centered players like Tyler Matakevich aren’t here.