The Buffalo Bills lost one of the NFL’s top middle linebackers via free agency this offseason when Tremaine Edmunds signed a huge contract with the Chicago Bears. Always a polarizing player in his time with the Bills, Edmunds was the quintessential “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” player, and the Bears clearly found him to be quite fetching.
Whether you were of the opinion that Edmunds was elite, overrated, or somewhere in between, the truth is that the Bills now have to replace a player around whom they’d built their defensive system for the better part of the last five seasons. That’s no small task, although it should help that the Bills still have another elite linebacker already in the fold.
In today’s edition of “90 players in 90 days,” we discuss one of the young players who will fight for the right to replace Edmunds in the lineup.
Name: Baylon Spector
Height/Weight: 6’, 233 pounds
Age: 24 (25 on 10/20/2023)
Experience/Draft: 2; selected by the Bills in the seventh round (No. 231 overall) of the 2022 NFL Draft
Acquired: Seventh-round draft choice
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Spector enters the second year of his rookie contract, a four-year deal that totals $3,763,724 overall. In 2023, Spector carries a cap hit of $895,931, and the Bills would be on the hook for a dead-cap charge of $77,793 if he were to be cut.
2022 Recap: Spector made the team as a reserve linebacker, and he was active for just six games on the season. He made six tackles playing nearly all of his snaps on special teams. He appeared on 12 defensive snaps all season, and all of those snaps came during the fourth quarter of Buffalo’s blowout victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 5. In total, he played 86 special teams snaps across those six games.
Positional outlook: Spector is one of quite a few linebackers vying for space on the 53-man roster, and he’s also one of quite a few players hoping to replace Tremaine Edmunds in the starting lineup. Matt Milano is written into the lineup with Sharpie, but Terrel Bernard, Dorian Williams, Tyrel Dodson, A.J. Klein, and Travin Howard all could see time next to him. Tyler Matakevich might, as well, but he’s really a special teams-only player. The team lists Von Miller and Shane Ray at linebacker, but neither of them functions as an off-ball linebacker in Buffalo’s defense.
2023 Offseason: Spector is healthy and participating in offseason activities.
2023 Season outlook: It’s certainly possible that the second-year man earns a spot in the starting lineup, but a far more realistic goal would be for him to earn a jersey each Sunday as a special teams player this season. Spector has some good traits — he possesses elite agility, and great speed and explosion—but an overall lack of length and functional strength makes it tough to project him as an every-down player. I’m sure that the same could have been said for Milano, though, so that’s not necessarily a deal-breaker if the Bills can find a way to use him effectively. It’s quite likely that Spector is on the roster this coming season. I think it’s very unlikely that he’s a starter, though, barring a special preseason.