Players who made a million bucks or less and were great contributors
In order to afford big contracts for their talented players, the Bills must also find some diamonds in the rough. Cheap veterans and rookies on their entry contracts have to play a major role on the Buffalo Bills and general manager Brandon Beane has found several.
In the past when we’ve done our listing, we used cap hit to reflect value, but with the cap shenanigans employed by Brandon Beane recently and the improvement of the databases, we’ve switched to yearly cash payments as our metric.
Before we hit out top ten over the coming days, we wanted to share the group of six players who just missed out list. All of these players made around a million bucks cash in 2021. We’ve listed them here in order of highest pay to lowest pay instead of ranking them.
Honorable Mention: WR Isaiah McKenzie
McKenzie made $1.1275 million in 2021 after signing a small one-year deal last offseason. His number is going to go up in 2022 as he signed a more lucrative extension. He played in 15 regular season games, caught 20 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown plus added nine rushes for 47 yards and a touchdown. He returned 19 punts for 147 yards and 24 kickoffs for 584 yards. In total, he played 24% of the offensive snaps and 23% of the special teams snaps.
Honorable Mention: DB Siran Neal
A stalwart on special teams, Neal played in all 17 games for the Bills totaling 23 tackles, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. He only played 14% of the defensive snaps (153), but 66% of the special teams snaps—good for fourth on the team. The reason he makes the list is because of his value to the defense. Of the players who logged more than 40% of the special teams snaps (nine players, in all), only two played more than 120 snaps on offense or defense. His $920,000 in cash for 2021 was low, but he’ll make considerably more in 2022 under his new contract.
Honorable Mention: OL Ryan Bates
Another player with a big raise coming in 2022, Bates moved into the starting lineup late in the 2021 season and helmed the guard spot for the last four regular season games and the playoffs. He ended up playing 25% of the team’s regular season snaps on offense and 19% of the special teams snaps, too. All of that while making just $850,000 in cash, which was tied for 71st among all NFL guards.
Honorable Mention: CB Dane Jackson
Jackson stepped into the starting lineup following the injury to Tre’Davious White and he acquitted himself nicely. He made just $815,000, ranking him 161st(!) in the NFL among cornerbacks. He played in all 17 games, starting six, and logged six passes defended and 41 tackles. In all, he finished with 45% of the defensive snaps and 25% of the special teams snaps.
Honorable Mention: K Tyler Bass
Coming in 26th in the NFL at $780,000 in cash, Bass definitely outkicked that number in 2021. He was 28-of-32 on field goal attempts with a long of 57 yards while perfect on his 51 extra point attempts. His kickoff touchback percentage took a big hit in 2021, but I think that was by design, as they were trying to pin teams inside the 25. He did throw in a tackle, too.
Honorable Mention: FB Reggie Gilliam
Like Neal, he played a ton of special teams snaps, logging more than 72% of them to place second on the team. While Neal had 153 defensive snaps, Gilliam played 155 snaps on offense. He recorded three receptions for 23 yards and three rushes for three yards while pitching in three tackles on special teams. While the stats don’t jump out, he is consistently being relied on in both the offense and special teams game plans at just $780,000 in cash. That figure was 16th among NFL fullbacks in 2021.
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