In case you missed it on Wednesday, the Buffalo Bills officially introduced their newest free agent signing: fullback Jerome Felton, formerly of the Minnesota Vikings. It had been reported that the Bills had landed Felton the previous day, but the contract was signed yesterday.
Felton signed a four-year deal worth a total of $9.2 million, with $3.6 million guaranteed - $2.6 million of that is signing bonus, prorated over the length of the deal for cap purposes - and a first-year base salary of just $1 million. Throughout the life of his deal, his cap hits are scheduled to be $1.75 million in 2015, and $2.3 million, $2.5 million, and $2.65 million in subsequent years.
The move occurs as the Bills, under new coaches Rex Ryan and Greg Roman, re-configure their tight end and fullback depth charts to better accommodate the personnel demands of Roman's run-heavy offense. The tight end position is being gutted - Scott Chandler was released, and Lee Smith departed via free agency - while it's been years since the Bills invested this heavily into the fullback position.
While in San Francisco, Roman employed one of the best fullbacks in the game in Bruce Miller. During the last three years of that stretch, Felton was blocking for Adrian Peterson in Minnesota, while the Bills relied on the aforementioned Smith, more so than any of their fullbacks, as their blocking specialist. Why not compare the three, then? The chart below uses Pro Football Focus grading from the 2012, 2013, and 2014 seasons to provide cumulative overall and blocking grades for the three lead blockers. It's not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison, since Smith plays a different position, but you can see exactly how much more Miller was used than the other two, and how the players stack up against one another.
|Player||Team||Snaps||OVR +/-||Block +/-||Contract|
|Bruce Miller||49ers||1,429||+19.6||+16.7||3 years, $5.4M, $3.25M guaranteed|
|Lee Smith||Bills||1,049||+9.5||+17.3||3 years, $9.1M, $3.1M guaranteed|
|Jerome Felton||Vikings||867||+16.9||+14.8||4 years, $9.2M, $3.6M guaranteed|