The Buffalo Bills’ devastating 42-36 overtime loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on January 23 still felt raw on Monday morning. While it will take time to process yet another playoff defeat at the hands of the Chiefs, the Bills must also deal with the reality that this team will likely look very different next year.
Joe Schoen, one of Buffalo’s longtime top executives, has already accepted a new job as the New York Giants general manager, while both offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier are two of the most sought-after candidates to fill vacant head coaching positions elsewhere.
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And then, there are the players whose contracts came to an abrupt end with Sunday night’s loss. With quarterback Josh Allen’s monster extension kicking in next season, his cap hit jumps from $10.2 million to $16.4 million in 2022 and $40 million in 2023, it will only become more difficult for the team to retain their top players.
Was that a goodbye tweet? The Bills re-signed “Lil Dirty” to a one-year, $1.15 million contract including $350,000 guaranteed at signing back in March 2021, according to Spotrac, which means the 26-year-old is once again a free agent.
SB Nations‘ Matt Warren surmised on Monday, “Several key Bills are free agents and/or on the wrong side of 30. This was the best team they’re going to have for a long time with a mix of great young players and veterans, and they blew the multiple chances when they had the game won.”
McKenzie’s Best Performance of the Season Was Against the Patriots in Week 16
McKenzie’s position with the Bills this year was a rollercoaster. He was benched after fumbling a kick return against the Colts in November, but the fifth-round pick from the 2017 NFL draft got the chance to start in Week 16 after Cole Beasley and Gabriel Davis were both placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, and he was near unstoppable.
Against the New England Patriots, McKenzie finished the game with 11 catches for 125 yards and a touchdown. Prior to Sunday’s game against the Patriots, he had tallied a total of six catches on the season. This standout performance could put him in line for a raise, and if the Bills don’t pay up, another team might.
With so many offensive weapons on the Bills roster, Mckenzie, who first signed with Buffalo in 2018, was used sparingly against the Chiefs, tallying one reception for three yards. Next season, he may want to find a franchise that will utilize his talents on a more consistent basis.
All of Allen’s Teammates Gushed Over His Playoff Performance
It wasn’t just McKenzie giving a well-deserved shout-out to Allen — every single Bills player made sure to thank him during their postgame news conferences.
Wide receiver Gabriel Davis, who caught all four of Allen’s touchdown passes on Sunday night, said, “What he did last night is no surprise. That’s the type of leader you want leading your offense. He’s the best quarterback in the NFL and I’ll be by his side no matter what,” according to local Bills reporter AJ Feldman.
Tight end Dawson Knox acknowledged the pain of losing against the Chiefs yet again, but, said of playing with Allen, “There’s always going to be a lot more ups than downs,” and of the quarterback’s six-year, $258 million contract, “He’s worth every penny. He probably even took a discount, which is funny to say,” Bills reporter Maddy Glab tweeted.
It wasn’t just fellow Bills players commending Allen for his spectacular performance on Sunday night. NFL analysts from nearly every sports outlet were in awe of his versatility as a quarterback, focus and accuracy.
ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky tweeted, “Live watching thought @JoshAllenQB was phenomenal and it may have been the best game of his career. After watching the tape-he was better than that-and yes it was the best game of his career Guy has the chance to be HOF good.”