Bills Veteran Becomes ‘Highest Paid’ Nickel CB With 8-Figure Contract

The Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane is making sweeping changes to the roster to get cap-compliant. After abruptly cutting several longtime veterans ahead of free agency, it was clear Beane meant business.

 

However, one key mainstay of Bills head coach Sean McDermott’s defense is sticking around. ESPN’s Adam Schefter broke the news on Monday, March 18, “Bills are signing All-Pro DB Taron Johnson to a three-year extension that makes him the NFL’s highest-paid nickel back, per source. He’s tied to Buffalo through the 2027 season.”

 

“It’s a three-year, $31 million extension for Taron Johnson in Buffalo,” Schefter noted. “His agent Jason Chayut now has confirmed the deal.”

 

 

 

 

Johnson has spent his entire career in Buffalo. The Bills fourth-round pick from the 2018 NFL draft started all 17 games last season. He registered a career-high 98 total tackles, 8 passes defensed, 3 forced fumbles, and 1 fumble recovery. In two playoff games, the 27-year-old added another 8 total tackles and 1 forced fumble. Johnson was on the field for 89% of the team’s defensive snaps, per Pro Football Talk.

 

 

 

Johnson previously signed a three-year, $24 million contract with the Bills, which kept him under contract through 2024. But after releasing veteran defensive back Siran Neal, it seems they wanted to lock Johnson down for the foreseeable future. It also likely lowers his $12.4 million cap hit in 2024.

 

13 WHAM’s Mike Catalana posted, “You can certainly make a case that no one on Bills defense has been better than Taron Johnson over his 6 years… Johnson now should be the leader of the group.”

 

The Webster State alum earned Second-Team All-Pro honors last season. The 5-foot-11, 192-pounder has appeared in 88 games and made 67 starts in Buffalo. He’s recorded a total of 450 tackles, 39 passes defense, 7 forced fumbles, 4 interceptions, and 1 pick-six.

 

 

 

The announcement of Johnson’s extension comes on the heels of cornerback Siran Neal‘s abrupt exit. Neal, a former fifth-rounder also drafted by the Bills in 2018, was included in Buffalo’s first wave of cuts.

 

The decision was a surprise since Neal still had one year left on his three-year, $9 million extension. His release cleared approximately $2.8 million in cap space. Neal signed a one-year, $1.95 million contract with the Miami Dolphins in free agency, which seems like a bargain for the special teams stud.

 

Since the Jacksonville State entered the NFL, “Only three players in the league have more special-teams plays with one team than Neal’s 1,714 in regular-season play with the Bills,” AL.com’s Mark Inabinett wrote. “He’s also played 567 defensive snaps in 97 regular-season games. Neal also has played in 10 postseason games with Buffalo.”

 

 

 

After cutting Tre’Davious White, Neal, and Jordan Poyer, the Bills said goodbye to Leonard Floyd. As for All-Pro safety Micah Hyde, he’s mulling over retirement.

 

Following their release, Johnson shared a tribute video on Instagram and wrote, “End of an era.”

 

Keeping Johnson was a no-brainer. The Athletic’s Joe Buscaglia wrote, “Over the last few years, Johnson has become an indispensable piece of the defense, single-handedly allowing Buffalo to run nickel defense as its base look regardless of the offense’s personnel.

 

“His ability to bridge the gap between pass coverage and run defending in a 5-foot-11, 192-pound frame makes him one of the best at his position in the NFL. He is one of the most irreplaceable starters on the entire roster, making him extremely valuable for the Bills. Johnson will provide the institutional knowledge of the scheme and leadership within the defensive secondary that the team lost this offseason.”

 

 

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