The Buffalo Bills have a great track record of finding and developing high-quality defensive backs in the Sean McDermott era. A former college safety himself, McDermott has a knack for finding undervalued players in the defensive backfield. Players like Micah Hyde, Jordan Poyer, E.J. Gaines, Dane Jackson, and a host of others have come from a place between elsewhere and nowhere to have success with the Bills.
With that in mind, any signing in the secondary gives me hope that the team can make the best out of a particular player. Sure, there’s a little bit of homer in me that leads to my thinking that the Bills can make a good player out of anyone. But especially in the defensive backfield, it’s been true more often than not.
In today’s edition of “90 players in 90 days,” we discuss a recent addition to the club — a cornerback looking for redemption after struggling mightily in his third professional season.
Name: Cameron Dantzler
Height/Weight: 6’2”, 188 pounds
Age: 24 (25 on 9/3/2023)
College: Mississippi State
Acquired: Signed by Buffalo on 6/7/2023
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Dantzler signed a one-year deal worth $1.01 million. There are no guarantees on his contract, so if Buffalo releases him prior to the start of the season, there is no dead-cap charge to carry. The value of the contract is his cap hit if he makes the team in September.
2022 Recap: The 2022 season was a down year for Dantzler, who allowed 41 of the 53 passes thrown his way to be completed (77.4%) for 407 yards and two touchdowns. For comparison, Buffalo’s Dane Jackson allowed 46 of the 78 passes thrown his way to be completed (59%) for 538 yards and three touchdowns. Dantzler missed four games on injured reserve thanks to an ankle injury, and after he returned, he was a healthy scratch for three of the Vikings’ final four games, including their playoff loss to the New York Giants. Dantzler was waived by the Vikings on March 10, and he was claimed off waivers by the Washington Commanders on March 13. Washington released him on May 30. In total, Dantzler played in 10 games, making nine starts. He had 50 tackles, five pass breakups, three tackles for loss, one fumble recovery, and one forced fumble.
Positional outlook: Dantzler is one of a host of corners battling for a spot on what is a very deep roster. Tre’Davious White, Kaiir Elam, Christian Benford, Taron Johnson, Siran Neal, Cam Lewis, Alex Austin, Dane Jackson, and Ja’Marcus Ingram are the others.
2023 Offseason: Dantzler is healthy and he participated in offseason activities after joining the team.
2023 Season outlook: At worst, Dantzler is an experienced camp body who can offer competition for an outside corner spot and insurance against injury if one of Buffalo’s presumed top corners is hurt during the preseason. At best, Dantzler is a talented reclamation project who can benefit under the excellent tutelage of head coach Sean McDermott and defensive backs coach John Butler.
Given his size and his struggles last year at corner, perhaps the Bills could give Dantzler a look at safety, as well, although the depth the team has there doesn’t really necessitate people crossing over for this season. Dantzler’s ability to perform on special teams is going to go a long way towards helping his case for a roster spot, as the Bills are probably pretty well set with White, Elam, Benford, and Johnson for sure. Siran Neal has been a special teams mainstay for the team, but his $3 million cap hit could be deemed too much if someone who makes less can do the same work. Dane Jackson operated as the de facto CB1 for much of last season, so his experience in the system helps him, as well.
Dantzler isn’t an automatic cut, but I don’t think I’d go out on a limb and give him good odds at making the roster, either. He’ll be an interesting player to watch this summer, and with positive results, he could find himself on the squad come September.