The Buffalo Bills jumped on the bandwagon Wednesday proving to be the latest team in the AFC — pretty much all besides the New England Patriots — to make a massive move on the first day of the 2022 league year.
The two-time defending AFC East champion Bills signed talented edge rusher Von Miller to a massive six-year, $120 million contract. Miller confirmed the deal himself on social media. Miller’s deal will pay him $17.5 million average per year during the first four years, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
Buffalo also signed tight end O.J. Howard shortly after Miller.
Buffalo joins the three AFC West teams — Los Angeles Chargers, Denver Broncos, Las Vegas Raiders — as an organization to start off the legal tampering period/league year with a bang. Miller, specifically, was arguably the best pass rusher still available after the Broncos signed Randy Gregory and Raiders signed Chandler Jones.
It’s a single move that could greatly impact the rest of the conference, including the Patriots.
On the field, Miller will further complement a Bills defense that ranked first in the league in points and yards allowed last season. Buffalo’s pass rush coupled by the back end with one of the best safety combinations in football limited opponents to the fewest passing yards and passing touchdowns with the best opposing passer rating. Miller enters Buffalo after finishing the 2021 season with 9.5 sacks while playing for the Broncos and Los Angeles Rams. Miller, who will play in his age-33 season, played his best during a postseason run which granted him his second Super Bowl, and it’s clear the Bills feel he has plenty left in him. The three-time All-Pro and eight-time Pro Bowler has 115.5 sacks in his career.
Miller’s ability will make it tough on opposing offensive lines. Of course, it’s not ideal for the Patriots given that they have major questions on the offensive line after the departure of Ted Karras, trade of Shaq Mason and uncertainty of Trent Brown.
But there may be an even bigger, long-term takeaway to be had.
The Bills — and specifically quarterback Josh Allen — seemingly have turned the cold winters of Buffalo into a destination for free agents. It’s clear the up-and-coming Bills are building, and players around the league have taken notice. That point was something Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer touched on before the legal tampering period started, and Breer doubled down on that notion following Buffalo’s moves Wednesday. He isn’t alone in that thinking either. Many Patriots fans will remember the days that was the case in New England given one special quarterback named Tom Brady.
So while Miller’s individual signing will help the AFC East-favored Bills (-225 to win the division) edge teams like the Patriots in the short term, it seems like the ability to play with the 25-year-old Allen and a franchise on the cusp could have its advantage in the long term. The latter might be more worrisome for the Bill Belichick’s Patriots.