After making the surprise move to extend defensive tackle Ed Oliver to a four-year, $68 million deal, and snagging former Los Angeles Rams standout edge, Leonard Floyd, the Buffalo Bills continued to shake up their defense ahead of mandatory minicamp.
On Tuesday, June 7, the Bills announced they were signing former Minnesota Vikings cornerback Cameron Dantzler. The Vikings’ former third-round pick from the 2020 NFL draft has appeared in 35 games and made 26 starts since he joined the team.
Pro Football Focus analyst Sam Monson dubbed Dantzler the Vikings’ “secret superstar” heading into the 2022 NFL Season. “Perennially in [former Vikings head coach] Mike Zimmer’s doghouse, Dantzler has been the best-performing Vikings cornerback in recent seasons and, given his youth, the one that would seem to have the most potential going forward,” Monson predicted.
The 6-foot-2, 190-pounder went on to record 50 total tackles, five passes defended, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery in 10 game appearances last season. Throughout his three years with the Vikings, Dantzler tallied three interceptions and 149 total tackles. After getting waived by the Vikings on March 10, the 24-year-old signed with the Washington Commanders three days later, but was released in May.
In order to make room for the Mississippi State alum, the Bills cut cornerback Kyler McMichael, who they signed a two-year reserve/futures contract in January worth $1.67 million, per OvertheCap.com.
The UNC alum initially signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent last year, but after failing to make the roster, signed with the Bills practice squad in September 2022.
While SB Nation‘s Sean Murphy described McMichael as an “athletic” corner that could develop into a “viable” defender in Buffalo, the already stacked competition at the position made the 23-year-old’s chances of making the active roster very slim.
Cameron Dantzler Will Compete to Start Opposite Cornerback Tre’Davious White
According to Dantzler’s Pro Football Focus stats, he works primarily as an outside linebacker, with 1,618 defensive snaps at that position, only 38 snaps played in the slot.
While there’s no doubt Pro Bowl veteran Tre’Davious White start at left cornerback, there’s a wide open competition for the player starting opposite him, as the Bills’ former first-round pick, Kaiir Elam, has yet to prove he’s a full-time starter.
The Athletic‘s Joe Buscaglia wrote on June 6 that Elam is the “presumed favorite” to take over the role, “but there have been little hints over the last three weeks that it’s anything but an open-and-shut case.” When Bills general manager Brandon Beane was asked about his progress after practice on Tuesday, he strongly insinuated that Elam, who’s also competing with Dane Jackson and Christian Benford, did not have the starting job on lock.
“I thought there were some rookie things that he did in practice that sometimes said, ‘Don’t do that,’ and just some learning things. But, in all fairness to him, I thought he, in games, he cleaned up a lot of that,” Beane said. “So really it’s just getting that to translate and being more consistent player in practice, which I think he’s showing.”
“I wish I could say like, ‘Hey, Kaiir’s not putting all his effort in or he’s not studying.’ He is all in as much as anybody. And I think, you will see him continue to progress,” Beane said. “You know us here, though. We’re going to make everyone earn it. It doesn’t matter where you were selected or what your salary is. And so Kaiir understands that and he’s prepared for the challenge.”
Brandon Beane Hinted at Signing a New Player, But Only ‘Cheap’ Ones
After extending Oliver and signing Floyd, Beane told reporters on Tuesday that Buffalo didn’t have the salary cap flexibility to make another significant addition, however, he hinted at Dantzler’s signing. Beane said they “just worked out a couple of DBs” and had “another one coming in,” as reported by ESPN.
While Dantzler’s contract details have not yet been revealed, his deal will be on the low end. Beane estimated that the Bills were $3 to $5 million “over the cap as currently constructed once they get to a 53-man roster,” WGR 550’s Sal Capaccio tweeted. “Right now, with NFL rule of top-51 counting, he says they have about just over $4M available.”
“I’m going to keep looking and if someone wants to come for cheap, come on down,” he said, per 13WHAM‘s Dan Fetes.