The Buffalo Bills are searching for a new starter at linebacker after the departure of Tremaine Edmunds. With that in mind, basically everyone on the roster could be considered a serious contender for the position, as Matt Milano is locked into the other starting spot.
“Basically” everyone doesn’t mean “everyone,” however, and there is at least one player on the squad who has little chance of being the guy to step in to fill Edmunds’ shoes. Especially at linebacker, the Bills tend to carry reserves who can cover kickoffs and punts, so the ability to play on special teams is a big need for those backups.
In today’s installment of “90 players in 90 days,” we discuss a veteran who is really a linebacker-in-name-only — as his main role is to captain the coverage units on special teams.
Name: Tyler Matakevich
Height/Weight: 6’1”, 235 pounds
Age: 30 (31 on 12/22/2023)
Acquired: Signed with Buffalo on 3/30/2020
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Matakevich signed a fresh contract extension this past March. It’s a two-year deal on paper that’s worth a total of $2.5 million. I say it’s a two-year deal “on paper” because the second year is a void year. For 2023, Matakevich carries a cap hit of $1,832,500 and a dead-cap number of $2.5 million.
2022 Recap: Matakevich appeared in just three defensive snaps, which is the smallest number of snaps he’s played since coming to the Bills. That’s never been his main role anyway, as he is a special teams player and nothing more. He appeared on 323 snaps on special teams, which was more than anyone on the roster. He made six tackles on the season. In the playoffs, Matakevich had two more tackles on special teams.
Positional outlook: Matakevich is one of eight off-ball linebackers on the roster. He’s joined by Travin Howard, Dorian Williams, Matt Milano, Terrel Bernard, Tyrel Dodson, A.J. Klein, and Baylon Spector.
2023 Offseason: Matakevich is healthy and participating in offseason activities.
2023 Season outlook: Given that the Bills would owe more on the salary cap this year to remove Matakevich from the roster than they would merely to continue using him on special teams, it seems to be a near-certainty that he’ll be on the team once again. While the Bills may have an opening in the starting defense at linebacker, I don’t consider him to be a serious contender for that job, as he’s not shown anything throughout his career that would suggest that he’s more than a special teams player. Matakevich is with the Bills for another season.