The Buffalo Bills addressed several needs during the 2023 NFL Draft, but they missed out on landing a defensive tackle. However, the Bills didn’t wait long to rectify that issue.
NFL Network‘s Tom Pelissero broke the news on Tuesday, May 2, that the Bills were signing former Seattle Seahawks starter Poona Ford. Pelissero tweeted, “The #Bills are signing former #Seahawks nose tackle Poona Ford to a one-year deal, per sources. One of the top free agents still available, Ford turned down more money elsewhere to try to win a ring in Buffalo. A big (literally) post-draft addition for Sean McDermott’s defense.”
The Bills officially confirmed Ford was heading to Orchard Park shortly after Pelissero’s report.
Last month, Syracuse.com’s Ryan Talbot reported that the Bills were looking into signing Ford, but noted the cost to land the 27-year-old defensive lineman would be an issue. According to Spotrac.com, Ford’s market value had him receiving a three-year, $27.8 million contract.
“Per source, the #Bills have expressed interest in DT Poona Ford,” Talbot tweeted on March 19. “Ford is a disruptor on the inside. He finished last season with 3 sacks, 14 hurries and 22 total pressures. Making the financials work on a player of Ford’s caliber could be the tricky part… Bills probably have some moves to make if they want Ford. Cap it tight this year and Beane has said that they don’t want to kick the can down the road on too many players, but there are still cards to be played.”
While his exact contract details have yet to be disclosed, Talbot revealed on Tuesday that Ford took a discount to sign with the Bills. “#Bills upped their offer from mid-March now that the compensatory pick formula is out the window,” Talbot tweeted. “As @TomPelissero noted, Poona turned down more money from other teams to join Buffalo.”
This news has to come as a tough blow for the Seahawks, as the 5-foot-11, 310-pound tackle was a fan-favorite in Seattle, and head coach Pete Carroll told reporters on April 29 that he’d “love” to get Ford back. The Athletic‘s Seahawks reporter Michael-Shawn Dugar tweeted, “I’ll be curious to see the contract value on this. Thought it would have made sense for Seattle to try and get Poona back.”
General Manager Brandon Beane Admitted He was Disappointed the Bills Didn’t Draft a DT
“It just didn’t fall our way,” Beane said. “I was really hoping to add one for sure. Maybe there’s a veteran out there… We’ve talked to a couple of people prior to the draft. And we decided to wait and see.”
By signing Poone, Beane’s decision to wait seems to have paid off. However, with just a one-year contract, he joins a long list of Bills defensive tackles on expiring contracts this season. Ed Oliver, DaQuan Jones, Jordan Phillips and Tim Settle will all become free agents after the 2023 NFL Season.
Poona Ford was One of the Top Free Agents Left on the Market
Ford has spent the past five seasons with the Seahawks after going undrafted in 2018. During the 2022 NFL season, the Texas alum made 35 tackles, three sacks, six tackles for a loss, and seven quarterback hits.
Heavy Sports insider Matt Lombardo named Ford as one of the top free agents available this offseason, and named the Bills as one of the best fits. Lombardo wrote of Ford’s potential, “Disruptive interior defenders have proven their value time and again, as the Philadelphia Eagles have seen throughout Fletcher Cox’s career, and the Kansas City Chiefs have benefited from Chris Jones’ presence along their defensive line. Ford is arguably a top-15 talent at the position and could provide similar value to a contending team aiming to beef up along the trenches.”