5 Buffalo Bills deserving of a contract extension
By Avery Duncan
Matt Milano – LB
The Bills made the right choice in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL Draft by selecting Matt Milano. A safety turned undersized linebacker, Milano was touted as an energy guy with exceptional range to make a difference on passing downs. It turns out; he’s capable of making a difference no matter the down.
Milano earned the starting job as WILL linebacker (weakside) prior to the start of the 2018 season. The Bills, and Milano, immediately reaped the benefits. Before sustaining a season-ending fractured fibula, the linebacker was on a tear. In his 13 games started, he tallied 78 total tackles, 12 tackles for loss, seven pass deflections, three interceptions, and a sack.
In 2018, Milano showed that he can play the run as well as the pass, as his instincts, speed, and clean tackling shined when tasked with gap control. However, coverage is–and always has been–his strong suit. Per Pro Football Focus, he allowed a 67.0 passer rating when targeted in 2018, the highest in the league amongst linebackers. Considering how pass-heavy the NFL is, having that skillset can’t be understated.
Milano still has some growing to do, but he appears to be the plan for the linebacker alongside Tremaine Edmunds. Coming off an excellent season, the Bills figure to have another productive linebacker on board from him.
Luckily for the Bills, they won’t pay Milano over $800 thousand in a season for the next two years. Luckily for Milano, he’s going to receive a hardy contract if he continues to perform like he did last year. His skill set would be a premium on the market. Considering that the linebacker market reset in the 2019 off-season, the Bills would be wise to lock him up sooner rather than late.