Alaina GetzenbergESPN3 minutes of reading
BUFFALO, NY — The Buffalo Bills finally have a defensive tackle under contract through the 2023 season. The Bills have agreed to terms with 2019 first-round draft pick Ed Oliver on a four-year, $68 million extension, including $45 million guaranteed, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The deal keeps Oliver under contract through the 2027 season.
The $45 million in guarantees ranks sixth among active defensive tackles, according to ESPN Stats and Information Research. Before reaching an agreement with the former ninth overall pick on an extension, the Bills didn’t have a defensive tackle signed through the 2024 season or beyond.
“I want to finish the season and be at zero [defensive tackles under contract in 2024],” general manager Brandon Beane said during the team’s rookie minicamp. “That would be my hope. But it should make sense. If there’s anybody here, right now, it would make sense to extend to any of them, so we’ll see. You know me well. We’ve found a way to do a stretch or two sometimes in training camp, so we can look at it at that point, where the guys are, who’s there, who’s there, who’s good, and if there’s an opportunity to get one extended, we’ll look to do it.”
The team has several veterans, but Beane didn’t mention it in the draft despite later saying he hoped to do so. The team signed Poona Ford to a one-year, $2.25 million contract, including $1.5 million guaranteed, days after the draft. Returning players at the position include Daquan Jones, Jordan Phillips and Tim Settle.
Oliver, 25, was set to play his fifth-year option in 2023 for $10.753 million. He is coming off a mixed 2022 season that began with a right ankle injury in the season opener against the Los Angeles Rams. Oliver missed the next three games and slowly increased his participation, describing Beane as “not himself for a while” even after his return.
He finished the season with 2.5 sacks, nine tackles for loss and six pass breakups in 13 games. Oliver was second on the team with a 41.5% run stop success rate (behind Jones). His season-best performance came in a Thanksgiving win over the Detroit Lions. Oliver finished the game with one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, one defense, six tackles, two tackles for loss and one sack.
“I think you have to weigh when did you think he was healthy? What was that like? And how did he impact the whole team,” Beane said in evaluating Oliver in March. “And, you know, he certainly didn’t have the production he wanted, but how much of that was missing games or how much was affected by him playing 85% versus 100%?”
Oliver has shown the ability to make splash plays in his four years in Buffalo, but coach Sean McDermott said he wants to see him have a “real good, consistent season” and the team has faith in him to do that. Senior defensive assistant/defensive line coach Eric Washington noted that Oliver’s processing speed is an area they are working on.
“When you have a talent like Ed’s, you have to understand situations and that can mean the difference between separating you from the opponent,” Washington said, noting that he’s seen Oliver become more vocal and confident this season. “I can process very, very quickly, so I can beat one-on-ones, so I can play ahead of a play as opposed to playing with the order of a specific play. So, where Ed is, from an experience standpoint, he has to play with anticipation as opposed to playing with the tempo of the play.”
Oliver joins Dawson Knox, who received a four-year extension in September, as the only member of the team’s 2019 class still on the roster.