Since the 2017 NFL season, the Buffalo Bills have boasted arguably the league’s best pair of safeties. With one of those players facing free agency this past offseason and the other coming off a major injury, there was plenty of discussion about what Buffalo’s safety group would look like in 2023 and beyond.
However, the player who spent most of the season on injured reserve appears to be fully recovered, and the other veteran re-signed with the team. Throw in the fact that another safety — a young player who suffered an unimaginable life-threatening injury during a game — is back at practice, and suddenly, Buffalo’s safety room doesn’t look very different at all.
In today’s edition of “90 players in 90 days,” we discuss one of the young players fighting for a spot on the back end of the roster or an invite to the practice squad.
Name: Jared Mayden
Height/Weight: 6’, 205 pounds
Age: 24 (25 on 6/24/2023)
Acquired: Signed off of the New York Jets’ practice squad on 1/4/2023
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Mayden has two years remaining on his contract, which is worth a total of $1.855 million. For the 2023 season, he carries a cap hit of $870,000 if he makes the roster. There is no dead-cap charge should the Bills decide to release him.
2022 Recap: Mayden began the 2022 offseason with the Philadelphia Eagles, but a preseason injury led to him being waived with an injury designation in August. He was placed on injured reserve on August 16, and released on September 20. The Bills signed him to the practice squad in October, where he remained until November 3 — when the Bills cut him from the practice squad. The New York Jets signed him to their practice squad on November 10. After Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest on the field against the Cincinnati Bengals on January 2, the Bills signed Mayden to their active roster off the Jets’ practice squad on January 4. Mayden did not appear in a game, regular season or otherwise, in 2022. He made one tackle in the one preseason game he played for the Eagles.
Positional outlook: There are plenty of familiar names in the safety room, as Micah Hyde, Jordan Poyer, Damar Hamlin, and Dean Marlowe are all on the team for now. Taylor Rapp and Zayne Anderson round out the positional group.
2023 Offseason: Mayden is healthy and participating in offseason activities.
2023 Season outlook: This group, at least on paper and in an ideal world, seems to be pretty settled at the top. Poyer, Hyde, Hamlin, and Rapp figure to be the top four, though there are major question marks about three of those four players. How will Hyde perform in his return from major neck surgery? Will Poyer be able to remain healthy after battling injury all throughout his age-31 season? How will Hamlin handle a return to the field after nearly having his life end the last time he played in an NFL game? These questions definitely make the back end of the safety group a trio that needs to be watched more closely. Mayden has a lot to prove, but a strong showing could lead to a spot on the practice squad, where he could continue to develop for a shot at a larger role in 2024 and beyond. For this year, though, he’s unlikely to make the 53-man roster unless someone in front of him is injured.