Backup: Trent Murphy
While Murphy has been a polarizing topic throughout the offseason due to the cap savings available if the Bills opt to part ways with the veteran. If the Buffalo Bills opts to cut/trade Murphy they would save $8.025 million towards the cap this season.
While that seems worthwhile, the Bills aren’t in cap trouble and can afford taking on Murphy for 2020 and letting him walk in free agency after the season. The pandemic shortened offseason comes into play too, as the Bills will be looking for continuity on the roster and might be hesitant to cut a valued veteran in the situation.
While starting off 2019 slow, Murphy recorded 4 sacks in his final 5 regular season games, and then tacked on two more in the Bills playoff game. The strong finish to the season should keep the Buffalo Bills coaching staff interested.
Despite likely not starting this season, the Bills love using heavy rotations along the defensive line so there will be a good chunk of snaps to be had.
Backup: A.J. Epenesa
The Buffalo Bills first selection of the 2020 NFL Draft at 54th overall has everything the team covets at the defensive end position.
Coming in at 6’6″ 280 pounds, Epenesa is a load coming off the edge, while not the most fleet of foot, he consistently wins with his power, especially with his hands.
His hand usage is unmatched and well ahead of any defensive end prospect in the draft. A technician off the edge, Epenesa doesn’t need athleticism to get to the quarterback.
The Buffalo Bills front office tends to value production over players with just “traits” and limited production. Epenesa fits this description as he produced at a high level his last two seasons with Iowa where he totaled 22 sacks in 26 games.
While the snaps won’t come as easy as they did in college in his rookie season, Epenesa’s ability to play inside at the 3-technique will allow him to be allocated snaps at multiple positions.