The Buffalo Bills brought back one veteran safety just before the start of free agency, and now have lost another one.
Veteran safety and special teams ace Jaquan Johnson is joining the Las Vegas Raiders on a one-year deal, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on March 20. Johnson came to the Bills as a sixth-round draft pick in 2019 and served mostly as a reserve, though started three games last season as both Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde lost time due to injuries.
Johnson had the potential to take on a more significant role had he remained with the Bills next season, but Poyer ended up re-signing with the team in a surprise move that may have contributed to pushing Johnson off the roster.
Jaquan Johnson Could Play Bigger Role in Las Vegas
Johnson was a reliable member of the Bills’ secondary, the Buffalo News noted, appearing in every game over the last two seasons along with all eight of their playoff games during his tenure. Johnson made four career starts, with three of them coming last season as the team was hit by a series of injuries. He finished the year with 25 tackles and one interception, though made a bigger mark on special teams where he made a career-best seven tackles last year.
Johnson will likely have the chance to play a bigger role in Las Vegas, as he would have remained behind both Hyde and Poyer in Buffalo. Bills general manager Brandon Beane also said Damar Hamlin plans to return next season after his 2022 season was cut short by an on-field collapse against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Beane said Hamlin still needs final clearance from the team’s medical team, but things are trending in the right direction for him.
“Everything has checked out to this point, and so it’s trending in the right direction,” Beane said at a press conference last week. “But we’ll get him through all those and then we’ll make sure all of our medical people are hearing all those opinions on each visit and make sure that we’re all on the same page of what it would look like. But we’re rooting for him, he wants to do it and we want to see him do it, and that’s probably where it’s at today.”
Jordan Poyer’s Surprise Return
The biggest move for the Bills this offseason may have been the one that came before free agency even started. Though it appeared Poyer would playing for a new team next year as he made a number of statements hinting he would leave Buffalo, the Bills were able to sign him to a two-year contract.
After landing the new deal, Poyer spoke out about finishing his career in Buffalo.
“This is where I’m going to finish my career and I’m really excited about that… I don’t know how many more years I have left to play,” Poyer said. “I know I have this year guaranteed, that I’m going to be able to play football at a high level. I’m healthy now and just needed time to get my body right. I’m ready to play.”