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90 Buffalo Bills players in 90 days: LB Tyrel Dodson

Tremaine Edmunds’ primary backup has a chance to start in 2023

AFC Divisional Playoffs - Cincinnati Bengals v Buffalo Bills Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills were spoiled over the last five years, starting Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds on most game days at linebacker. Not many teams could boast a pair of linebackers as talented as Buffalo’s dynamic duo.

As they say, though, all good things eventually come to an end, and with Edmunds signing a mega-deal with the Chicago Bears this spring, the time for a new partner for Milano is now. The Bills have a few options to choose from, with new additions to the roster joining some familiar names in the fray.

In today’s edition of “90 players in 90 days,” we profile a player looking to be the Robin to Milano’s Batman — a former undrafted free agent who’s been with the team through four seasons.

Name: Tyrel Dodson

Number: 53

Position: LB

Height/Weight: 6’, 237 pounds

Age: 24 (25 on 6/25/2023)

Experience/Draft: 4; signed with Bills following the 2019 NFL Draft

College: Texas A&M

Acquired: UDFA signing

Financial situation (per Spotrac): Dodson signed a one-year deal this offseason worth $2.01 million. That total is fully guaranteed, so the Bills will carry that cap number whether he’s on the roster this season or not.

2022 Recap: Dodson remained in his role as a special teams player and a backup to middle linebacker Tremaine Edmunds last season. He started three games in place of Edmunds, and in two of them, he performed quite well. He had 11 tackles and a sack in Buffalo’s 38-3 thrashing of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and he had 13 tackles in the Bills’ 31-23 victory over the Cleveland Browns. He also started on Thanksgiving Day against the Detroit Lions, but A.J. Klein played the majority of the snaps next to Matt Milano on that day. For the season, Dodson had 32 tackles, four of which came on special teams, to go with one sack and one fumble recovery. In the playoffs, Dodson didn’t record a tackle across 50 special teams snaps and one defensive snap. In the regular season, teams were 12-of-14 passing for 130 yards when Dodson was the closest person in coverage.

Positional outlook: Dodson is one of eight true off-the-ball linebackers on Buffalo’s roster. He’s joined by Milano, Klein, Dorian Williams, Tyler Matakevich, Travin Howard, Baylon Spector, and Terrel Bernard.

2023 Offseason: Dodson is healthy and participating in offseason activities.

2023 Season outlook: Dodson is absolutely going to have a shot at a starting role this year, though I expect a great deal of competition between him, Williams, and Bernard, with the veteran Klein another dark-horse candidate to slot into the starting mix. Perhaps the team won’t have a true “starter” at the position, instead using multiple players throughout the year depending on the opponent. Dodson has shown a knack for the ball, but he’s limited in coverage, which makes me hesitate to give him any sort of upper-hand in the competition. The linebacker spot is going to be watched very closely this summer, and Dodson should be in the thick of everything that happens there until the season begins. He’s a near-lock for the roster given his familiarity with the system and his usage on special teams, but his role is yet to be determined. If he has a good preseason and training camp, it’s possible that the former UDFA could be in line for a big step up in terms of his playing time.