The Buffalo Bills‘ defense took a hit following the suspension of linebacker Andre Smith on Wednesday, June 1. The 25-year-old linebacker will be ineligible to play in the first six games of the 2022 NFL season for a “PED suspension,” as first reported NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
Smith, who was originally selected by the Carolina Panthers in the seventh round of the 2018 NFL Draft, was traded to the Bills in 2020 for a conditional 2023 seventh-round pick. The UNC alum appeared in 12 games during the 2020 NFL season, recording seven tackles and one tackle for a loss, while on special teams, he forced a fumble and recorded two tackles.
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In 2021, the Bills re-signed Smith to a two-year, $2.4 million contract. The 6-foot, 200-pound linebacker appeared in 15 games during the 2022 NFL season, where he tallied four solo tackles along with six assisted tackles and one recovered forced fumble, per Pro Football Reference.
Smith responded to the suspension on Wednesday evening. He tweeted, “The recent turn of events have been very unfortunate. I have been appealing since November to prove my innocence. I do not agree with the decision that was made and I have never and will never take PED.”
Despite the suspension, Smith, who’s primarily carved out a niche role on special teams, will be able to participate in preseason games with the Bills, as reported by NBC Sports‘ Michael Davis Smith, but he will need to step away from the team starting in Week 1.
Per Spotrac.com, the suspension will take a chunk of change from Smith’s salary, and “stands to forfeit $390,423.” If Buffalo decides to part ways with Smith amid the suspension, they “can free up $1.1M of cap space.”
Smith Wasn’t In Attendance at OTAs Practice on Tuesday
The Bills recently started their second week of OTAs, and Smith was one of the many players not in attendance. OTAs are voluntary, so Smith being absent didn’t set off any initial alarm bells.
As reported by The Athletic‘s Joe Buscaglia, other Bills players who weren’t in attendance at practice on Tuesday, May 31, included quarterback Josh Allen, who was preparing for The Match on June 1, wide receiver Stefon Diggs, tight end Dawson Knox, guard Cody Ford, guard Ike Boettger, offensive tackle Spencer Brown, defensive tackle Ed Oliver, cornerback Tre’Davious White, and safety Jordan Poyer.
The Bills Face Numerous Tough Opponents During the First 6 Weeks of the 2022 NFL Season
The Bills arguably carry the most hype heading into the 2022 NFL season, but their “Super Bowl or bust” mentality and goal will be tested right out the gate. The team’s Week 1 game against the Los Angeles Rams is not only the Bills’ season opener, but it’s also the primetime opener for the NFL.
So, after taking on the Rams on Thursday Night Football, the Bills will immediately play in another national game on September 19, at 7: 15 p.m. ET at Highmark Stadium.
The Bills will be looking for revenge against the Titans, as they’ve lost their past two matchups against Tennessee. The last time these two teams faced off was also on Monday Night Football, during which the Bills lost 34-31. In 2020, things were much less close, and Buffalo lost 42-16 at Nissan Stadium.
In Week 3 of the 2022 NFL season, the Bills face AFC East Division rival, the Miami Dolphins, before traveling to take on the Baltimore Ravens in Week 4. The Bills return home to face the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 5 and then travel to face their ultimate AFC rival, the Kansas City Chiefs, at Arrowhead Stadium in Week 6.
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