There are few Bills players as beloved as Jordan Poyer. The strong safety has been one of the key cogs of the Bills’ defense in his five years in Buffalo, but his future with the team has been a big question mark this offseason as he heads into the final year of his contract.
That question just got even bigger after Poyer suffered a shoulder injury in practice on Tuesday.
The safety was hit in the arm while coming up in support on a run play and immediately grabbed his arm in pain. The injury was later revealed to be a hyperextended elbow and is expected to keep Poyer out for the rest of the preseason. While the expectation is that Poyer will return for Week 1 of the regular season, it only further complicates an already tricky contract situation.
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In an ideal world, it’s clear that the Buffalo Bills would love to keep Jordan Poyer. The 31-year-old has been one of the most underrated safeties in the NFL over the last five seasons. Since coming to Buffalo, Poyer has averaged 103.8 tackles, 3.6 interceptions, 7.2 passes defended, and 5.8 tackles for a loss. He finally earned his first All-Pro First Team spot after last season.
However, the Bills have also made understandably large financial commitments to Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, Dion Dawkins, Von Miller, Matt Milano, and Tre’Davious White. With a decision coming on middle linebacker Tremaine Edmunds and tight end Dawson Knox and a future decision looming about Ed Oliver, the Bills have to be meticulous about how their money is spent if they want to remain contenders for the foreseeable future.
So while Jordan Poyer certainly doesn’t need the preseason to hone his own skills, missing a few weeks due to injury gives the Bills’ front office a chance to see what this defense would actually look like without him. That means extra opportunities for fourth-year safety Jaquan Johnson, who has filled in at free safety for Micah Hyde before but can play both spots, and second-year strong safety Damar Hamlin.
It would be almost impossible for one of those two to play so well in the upcoming weeks that they supplant Poyer in the starting lineup; however, it’s possible that they play well enough to make the Bills feel comfortable with the future at the safety position should Poyer leave in the offseason.
What we do know is that it’s highly unlikely that the Buffalo Bills re-sign Jordan Poyer before the start of the season. The team will likely look to see how the safety bounces back from injury before deciding on his long-term future. This also gives the team time to see if they plan to give a large contract to Tremaine Edmunds or move on from the once-promising linebacker, which would free up more cap space to re-sign Poyer.
It’s a tough decision that will likely linger well into the season. The Bills just have to hope that it doesn’t become a distraction as they begin their quest for a Super Bowl. But in order for that to happen, they first need their key safety back from injury and on the field. Then, they’ll take it from there.