Bills Expected to Part Ways With Team Captain at Cut Deadline

Tyler Matakevich

Getty Buffalo Bills linebacker Tyler Matakevich reacts to a play in the 2022 AFC Wild Card playoff game.

The Buffalo Bills already parted ways with two core special teams players earlier this offseason, and one insider predicts a third will soon join them.

In his projection of the team’s final 53-man roster, Syracuse.com’s Ryan Talbot predicted that the Bills would release linebacker and special teams ace Tyler Matakevich. The Bills already allowed special teamers Jake Kumerow and Taiwan Jones to leave in free agency earlier this offseason, and a rookie standout could be taking over.


Bills ‘Moving On’ From Matakevich

Matakevich joined the Bills in 2020 after spending the first four years of his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. While he played only a depth role at linebacker, Matakevich became a fixture on the team’s special teams unit, playing more than three-quarters of all special teams snaps over the last three seasons.

Though Matakevich has been picked as a team captain and seems well-liked by the coaching staff, Talbot predicted that the Bills would move on at the August 29 roster deadline.

“He seems to be a favorite of Sean McDermott, but Matakevich missed a good chunk of the summer with a calf injury,” Talbot wrote in a story published August 23. “With Matakevich getting older, Buffalo moves on from the veteran. Matakevich’s $2.5 million salary is fully guaranteed, but the team moved on from a bigger dead cap hit last year (O.J. Howard) so I’m not ruling it out.”

Matakevich, who will turn 31 in December, missed some opportunities to secure a roster spot, missing the first preseason game before being activated from the PUP list on August 15.

The Bills have seen changes at Matakevich’s primary position as well, with a competition in training camp to fill the middle linebacker spot left vacant by the departure of Tremaine Edmunds.

With no clear starter emerging from the group of Tyrel Dodson, Terrel Bernard and Baylon Spector, Talbot predicted that the Bills could look for more help at the position as the season approaches, picking up another play through a trade or free agency.


Rookie Expected to Play Special Teams Role

While the Bills have already let a number of core special teams players leave this offseason, they may have a replacement ready in the form of rookie wide receiver Justin Shorter. He has been a special teams contributor from high school through his tenure at Florida, and Bills general manager Brandon Beane said in May that he expected Shorter to earn a spot on the roster thanks in large part to his ability to play in the third phase of the game.

“A lot of times that’s how guys, they get that jersey on game day and so they’ve got to know the offense or they got to know the defense and ultimately at some point they’re going to be in the game and Josh Allen is going to have to throw to him,” Beane said, via the Buffalo News. “So a lot’s on him. We believe in him. You can see he’s a pretty good-looking dude. You like the build and so we just got to work with him. … We think there’s some good upside.”

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