Buffalo Bills: Ranking the 5 best free agent signings of 2021

Matt Milano, Buffalo Bills (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
Matt Milano, Buffalo Bills (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) /
2 of 6
Buffalo Bills
ORCHARD PARK, NY – JANUARY 09: Matt Milano #58 of the Buffalo Bills during a game against the Indianapolis Colts at Bills Stadium on January 9, 2021 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images) /

Matt Milano

The biggest splash the Buffalo Bills made thus far into the offseason was signing linebacker Matt Milano, to a four-year, $44M deal.

Since his insertion into the starting defensive lineup, Matt Milano has been an integral piece of the Bills defense. Playing along a more traditional ‘downhill’ linebacker in Tremaine Edmunds has given Milano the ability in Buffalo to drop out into cover; this is an area where his skill set truly shines. Unlike Edmunds whose primary role is to stop the run, Milano scans the field in zone coverage far more often, making it hard for opposing quarterbacks to compete for the check-down throw for positive yards.

During the 2020 season, Milano was in and out of the Bills lineup as he was dealing with a nagging injury for most of the season. As a result, Milano only started in five games for Buffalo. In that time, he recorded an interception, 3.5 sacks (a new career-high), and 45 combined tackles.  While his presence on the field is certainly an indicator of how valuable he is, it was his time off the field that truly showed how irreplaceable Milano was.

After suffering an injury, A.J. Klein was forced to fill Milano’s shoes. In the first few games of his replacement, Klein was picked on by opposing offenses. Showing the inability to give the same pass-coverage blanketing and run-stopping ability as Milano made him an easy target.

With his return to Bills’ base nickel 4-2-5 defense, Buffalo gets a proven coverage linebacker who can take away space in the open field for a team-friendly deal.