With a blistering start to the season and Super Bowl aspirations lingering in the background, the Buffalo Bills may not have much time to wallow over the loss of All-Pro safety Micah Hyde to a season-ending injury.
Hyde suffered a neck injury in the team’s 41-7 win over the Tennessee Titans on Monday Night Football, leading him to go to the hospital. Though Hyde was released after being observed, his agent announced on Saturday that he would be headed to the injured reserve and won’t return until next season.
The injury blows a hole in the team’s secondary, and could have the Bills looking to the trade block to replace Hyde and keep their Super Bowl hopes intact.
Bills Could Look to Minnesota Vikings for Help
The Bills already have their immediate plans to fill in for Hyde, with fourth-year safety Jaquan Johnson moving into the starting lineup. Johnson is highly regarded by the team’s coaching staff, but has seen little opportunities for playing time behind the rather steady Hyde. The All-Pro safety had missed just two games during his four previous seasons with the Bills, and only one in his four seasons with the Green Bay Packers to start his career.
For the long-term, the Bills could take aim at a rumored trade target — Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith. Bleacher Report’s Brett Sobleski wrote in July that the Vikings may be willing to part with the 33-year-old while his value is still high.
“The six-time Pro Bowler remains an excellent player and tone-setter for the defense,” Sobleski wrote. “First-time general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah can make the smart play by moving the standout safety now before his value significantly declines.”
ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler polled league executives in July and found that many believe Smith is heading to the final phase of his stellar career.
“Obviously he’s getting older, but his intelligence overcomes a lot of that,” a defensive coach told Folwer.
Smith likely would not come cheap — and the 1-1 Vikings are still in the thick of a competitive NFC North — but the Bills may be more willing to part with high draft picks if it would keep them on a Super Bowl track.
Bills Call in Replacements Against Miami Dolphins
While any trade would likely be some time down the road, the Bills are making immediate plans for Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins to deal with their spate of injuries. While Hyde is lost for the season, fellow All-Pro safety Jordan Poyer is also questionable for the game with a foot injury. Safety Damar Hamlin is ready to slide into his place if Poyer is unable to play.
The Bills are also dealing with the loss of cornerback Dane Jackson, who like Hyde was taken to the hospital for a neck injury during Monday’s game. As ESPN’s Alaina Getzenberg noted, the Bills are looking to a pair of young players to fill the hole.
“The secondary will be hurting with Jackson also out,” Getzenberg wrote. “Cornerback Kaiir Elam, a first-round draft pick this year, is set to make his first NFL start alongside fellow rookie Christian Benford. The pair have been rotating at the cornerback spot opposite Jackson.”