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90 Buffalo Bills players in 90 days: DE Greg Rousseau

Groot took a big step forward last year. Could he be even better in 2023?

Indianapolis Colts v Buffalo Bills Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills have spent big to add depth to their defensive line. Whether it’s free agents at defensive tackle or the edge, or even draft choices at defensive end, it’s clear that the team prioritizes having strong depth up front.

In today’s installment of “90 players in 90 days,” we discuss one of those defensive linemen — an edge rusher who is much more than just a depth piece. As one of the team’s more recent first-round draft choices, he’s a young player on the rise.

Name: Greg Rousseau

Number: 50

Position: DE

Height/Weight: 6’6”, 266 pounds

Age: 23 (24 on 4/5/2024)

Experience/Draft: 3; selected by Buffalo in the first round (No. 30 overall) of the 2021 NFL Draft

College: Miami (FL)

Acquired: First-round draft choice

Financial situation (per Spotrac): Rousseau enters the third year of his four-year, fully guaranteed rookie contract. For the 2023 season, Rousseau carries a cap hit of $3,165,873. Buffalo would carry a dead-cap charge of a bit over $5 million if they were to release him and $1,450,852 if they were to trade him.

2022 Recap: Rousseau built on his rookie season and improved in basically every category in his second NFL year. He tied for the Bills’ lead in sacks with Von Miller, as both players notched eight. Miller did it in 11 games while Rousseau did it in 13. Groot also led the team in quarterback hits with 14, and he was second on the squad in tackles for loss with 10. He totaled 37 tackles, which was second to DaQuan Jones among all Bills defensive linemen. He also knocked down four passes at the line of scrimmage. Through Buffalo’s first seven games, Rousseau had five sacks, nine quarterback hits, and seven tackles for loss. In Buffalo’s eighth game, a loss to the New York Jets, Rousseau sprained his ankle and missed the next three contests. In the playoffs, Rousseau totaled four tackles and one quarterback hit. He was second in defensive end snaps on the year for the team, trailing only Shaq Lawson in that department.

Positional outlook: Rousseau is set to start across from Miller, with Leonard Floyd, A.J. Epenesa, Shaq Lawson, and Boogie Basham looking like the next wave of players vying for space in the rotation. Kingsley Jonathan, Kameron Cline, and Shane Ray round out the group.

2023 Offseason: Rousseau is healthy and he has participated in offseason work to date. He had a sack on Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mitch Trubisky in last Saturday’s 27-15 preseason loss.

2023 Season outlook: Rousseau is a solid player who is only scratching the surface of his potential thus far. He’s been an early win in the draft department for general manager Brandon Beane, and he’s one of the top dogs in what should be a strong defensive line rotation. While it’s easy to point to Miller’s injury as a reason Rousseau’s sack total dropped off last year, the ankle injury definitely had an effect on Rousseau’s explosiveness. Also, his rate stats didn’t really change much before the injury vs. after it: he played at a 12-sack pace in the first seven games of the year, and he played at a 10-sack pace after he returned from injury.

With another offseason under his belt, it’s not crazy to think that Groot takes that next step to becoming a double-digit sack artist, especially with Miller expected to return by mid-October at the latest and the addition of Floyd as another weapon up front. Rousseau is one of the most important players on the roster, and a big year from him will help take the Bills closer to their ultimate goal.