Bills Free Agency: Are special-teamers Anderson, Thomas worth bringing back?

February 15, 2018

The Buffalo Bills have 18 players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents on March 14, the first day of the new league year. All of them are eligible to re-sign with the club before hitting the open market. However, those who played 2017 on one-year veteran minimum deals have to wait until March 14, unless they agree to another one-year, vet minimum contract with the Bills. If they do, they can re-sign before then.

The advantage for the team signing a player to a one-year vet minimum contract is that no matter how many years of service they’ve had in the NFL, he will only count as a player with two years of service against the salary cap, which will be $630,000 in 2018.

Here’s a look at the two Bills' safeties scheduled to become unrestricted free agents in March and how I see their situations:

  • Colt Anderson

The eight-year veteran signed with the Bills prior to the 2016 season for the one-year veteran minimum. He was going to be a prominent special teams player for the team, but played in only two games after injuries landed him on injured reserve. He re-signed with the club on another one-year vet minimum deal before last season but, once again, wound up on injured reserve, this time playing only five games. Anderson has been a terrific special teams player throughout his career, but his role and career with the Bills has just never materialized due to the injuries. He’s now 32-years old and considering he has limited value as a defensive player, the team will probably look for a younger, healthier option to take on the core special teams role Anderson was supposed to fill.  

  • Shamarko Thomas

Thomas was signed in early October to fill the role vacated by Anderson after he was placed on IR and was active for all 12 games for the rest of the season, playing solely on special teams (other than six total defensive snaps in a couple blowouts). In fact, only six players who were with the team for the entire season played more special teams snaps than Thomas, who only played 12 games. So he was an integral part of every game for head coach Sean McDermott and special teams coordinator Danny Crossman. Thomas will turn 27 next week. He was a fourth round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers five years ago out of Syracuse. He almost certainly won’t get any offers beyond the one-year veteran minimum on the open market, and if he does there’s no reason for the Bills to bring him back. But he’s a tough player who can help on special teams going forward and may have convinced the coaching staff to re-sign him to another one-year vet minimum deal after his contributions last season.

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