Buffalo Bills free agency review: LB Matt Milano

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Justin DiLoro
·3 min read
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The Buffalo Bills enter the 2020 offseason after completing their most successful season in 25 years. While this good performance has folks brimming over with confidence, it does mean that some players, who have played out their contract will look for their payday and possibly greener pastures.

This is the first in a series of articles examining Buffalo’s unrestricted free agents. First, we’ll explore the situation of one of the Bills who has become a mainstay on the team’s defense since his draft selection in 2017, linebacker Matt Milano:

Season Stats

Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Milano played in 10 regular season games this season, finishing with 45 total tackles. This number was quite the drop off from his breakout 2019 campaign when he registered 101 total tackles. Injuries kept him from coming close to his 2019 production. However, Milano set a career-high with 3.5 sacks on the year. This goes along with nine quarterback hits and four tackles for loss. The fourth-year veteran snagged one interception and was credited with three passes defended. Milano earned a grade of 55.8 from Pro Football Focus, falling in the middle-of-the-road category of linebackers for their production this year.

Snap counts

(AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

Milano was on the field for a career- low 308 defensive snaps this year. The Boston College product found himself on injured reserved this year (hamstring, pectoral) and ultimately missed six games on the season. Buffalo also protected him a bit more, as he played only 14 special teams snap this year. However, he was leaned upon when the competition became more fierce, as he played in nearly every snap in the playoffs. Against Indianapolis, he played in 78-of-79 defensive snaps; against Baltimore, he played in all 78 defensive plays; and against Kansas City, he was on the field for 64-of-65 defensive plays.

Season review

Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Milano might be underappreciated by the national media, but he was a driving force for Buffalo's defense. He plays in all situations well: against the run, rushing the passer, and defending the pass. Milano fits all of the attributes of the modern linebacker. He was missed sorely by the defense when placed on injured reserve. While he only played 30-percent of the snaps during the regular season, his postseason counts soared. As exemplified by his usage during the playoffs, Milano is a three-down linebacker. The team struggled to matchup with tight ends and running backs at times when Milano missed time due to injury. Even though he has strong coverage skills, Milano was overmatched (as the rest of the Bills defense) by Travis Kelce in the AFC Championship Game.

The future

Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Here's the challenging part for the Bills: Milano is the type of linebacker that they would like to keep in the fold for a long time. However, he has missed time in every season as a pro. General Manager Brandon Beane didn't exactly give a vote of confidence in Milano's apparent return, sharing that the linebacker has "earned the right to go to free agency and see what the market bears." Furthermore, Spotrac sees Milano's market value at $13.8 million per year. This is based on the possibility of a three-year contract totaling north of $41 million. With contracts for Josh Allen and Tremaine Edmunds on the horizons, in conjunction with limited cap space heading into the 2021 season, Milano may get squeezed out of a future in Buffalo. While he may not head off to greener pastures, Milano is likely heading to a different and larger home starting in the fall.

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