Ever since head coach Sean McDermott arrived in 2017, he’s had two elite safeties to work with on defense. It shouldn’t be a surprise that a former college safety immediately rebuilt the defensive secondary by signing two safeties, but given the fact that the position is often an afterthought, it was definitely a unique approach to forming the defense.
Last year, the Bills dealt with injuries all over their defense, and the safety room that had been so steady wasn’t spared. While one of the Bills’ elite veterans spent most of the year on Injured Reserve, another was playing through injuries all season.
In today’s edition of “90 players in 90 days,” we discuss the veteran who gutted through multiple injuries to play in 75% of the team’s games.
Name: Jordan Poyer
Height/Weight: 6’, 191 pounds
Age: 32 (33 on 4/25/2023)
College: Oregon State
Acquired: Signed with Bills on 3/9/2017
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Poyer signed a two-year contract extension this offseason, a deal worth a total of $12.5 million. For the 2023 season, Poyer carries a cap hit of $4.88 million. Buffalo would be responsible for a dead-cap charge of $6.42 million, or the entirety of the guaranteed money in the deal, if they released him prior to the start of the season. His base salary becomes guaranteed once he’s on the roster for Week 1. That totals $2.24 million for the year.
2022 Recap: Poyer played on an expiring contract last season, and he gutted through multiple injuries that would have taken down 95% of mere mortals. Poyer injured his elbow early in the season, and for a while it looked like there was something growing out of his arm thanks to how swollen the area became. Poyer dealt with a rib injury — later reported to be a collapsed lung — that left him unable to fly, and rather than skip Buffalo’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs, he instead hopped in a van and made the 16-hour drive to Arrowhead Stadium. He also dealt with foot and knee injuries throughout the year. He left Buffalo’s 27-10 playoff loss against the Cincinnati Bengals due to a concussion. In spite of all that, Poyer finished fifth on the team in tackles (63), first in interceptions (4), and fourth in pass breakups (8). He added four tackles for loss and a forced fumble in 12 games. For his efforts, Poyer was named to his first career Pro Bowl. In two playoff games, he totaled nine tackles.
Positional outlook: Poyer is locked in as a starter next to fellow veteran Micah Hyde. Taylor Rapp, Damar Hamlin, Dean Marlowe, Jared Mayden, and Zayne Anderson are the other safeties on the roster.
2023 Offseason: Poyer has recovered from his litany of injuries and has participated in all team activities to date this offseason.
2023 Season outlook: So long as he’s healthy, Poyer will start for the Bills this season. Given the structure of his contract, it’s possible that the team could release him at season’s end to save $5.5 million on the 2024 salary cap, but if he plays the way he’s capable this season, it makes far more sense to allow one of the best to ever wear the uniform for the franchise to finish out his contract with the club. A $7.5 million cap hit in 2024 shouldn’t keep the team from rostering the savvy veteran, who is now tied for tenth in club history in interceptions with Jairus Byrd and George Saimes.
Poyer didn’t look to be slowing down at all last year, as the only reason his overall numbers weren’t better was his injury situation. If he’s healthy, Poyer is still an elite player in the back end of what figures to remain an elite defense. I expect that he’ll bounce back in a big way this season.