The 2022 NFL season didn’t finish up how fans or players wanted it to, but the Buffalo Bills’ defense was once again one of the best units in all of football. The group allowed the sixth-fewest yards per game at 319.1 and the second-fewest points per game at just 17.9. Peeling back the layers a bit with analytics, they were fourth overall in Football Outsider’s DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) with a cumulative score of -11%. Buffalo allowed the fifth-fewest rushing yards per game at 104.6. The leap linebacker Tremaine Edmunds made in 2022 was a huge part of the defensive success and is why he ranks sixth on our list.
Tremaine Edmunds came in at No. 6 in the Cover 1 cumulative Top 10 Important Player rankings by earning 22 out of 70 possible points (first-place vote = 10 points, tenth-place vote = 1). Edmunds’ highest ranking came from @LowBuffa who placed him at No. 3. The linebacker finished just one point ahead of No. 7 Dion Dawkins, who tallied 21 points from the team.
The Virginia Tech product eclipsed 100 tackles for the fifth time this season, leading the Bills with 102. He was also seventh on the team in tackles for a loss with six. His tackles rank him 23rd among LBs, ahead of teammate Matt Milano and in front of notable names like Bobby Wagner and Devin Lloyd. Edmunds didn’t blitz often, but Pro Football Focus (PFF) has him down for six hurries which slot him in 26th among qualified linebackers. Pretty solid counting stats, but @LowBuffa put it nicely, “simply put, this defense doesn’t function the same without him. His presence is underrated, his skillset is underappreciated, and his bank account deserves to be inflated.” We’ll get to the bank account in a couple of paragraphs.
The number nerds unequivocally love Edmunds. The Hokie ranks fifth among linebackers in PFF’s defensive grades with an 81.9. He falls all the way down to 12th ( I say that ironically) in tackling at 77.1 and 14th in pass rush. Neither of those are all that bad when it’s out of all linebackers to play 50% of his team’s snaps. PFF really loves Edmunds’ ability to drop into coverage, giving him the top mark of 90.0. That 90.0 is the second highest-graded player alone behind the 90.2 of Sauce Gardner. Another place some have knocked him is his tackling which was either false or fixed this year, as he only missed on 7.7% of his opportunities, or the 16th-best LB in the league. ” He commanded the defense and flew all over the field. He performed very well in his contract year, and it will be hard for the front office to let him walk,” said @stasetistics.
Game of the Year:
A lot of people will open the boxscore and say that the Minnesota game was Edmunds’ best. He had a season-high 13 tackles in that contest, but I will argue his best performance was the Wild Card win over Miami. My eyes told me he was all over the field. The boxscore says he had five tackles, one for a loss, and defended five passes allowing just one completion. I have to agree with @SportsRoc2 on Edmunds, “his best year to date for a linebacker build to thrive in the modern NFL.” The modern NFL stats, meaning analytics, also loved his playoff showing against the Dolphins. PFF ranked it his best game against the run and second-best game overall.
According to Spotrac, Edmunds’ rookie four-year deal was worth $12,659,544 with the Bills. That contract included a $7,286,941 signing bonus, $12,659,544 guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $3,164,886. Edmunds played that out and signed his fifth-year option before 2022 that paid him $12,716,000 to continue with the Bills. The LB is now an unrestricted free agent. Our @Cover1 cap guru @GregTompsett sees Edmunds staying with Buffalo on a six-year deal worth $105,000,000 that includes a low cap hit for 2023.
Vorse’s Final Take:
Tremaine Edmunds has a few things you just can’t teach other linebackers and that is being 6-foot-5 with 34 1/4-inch arms to go along with natural speed and athleticism. It took a couple of years for him to put it all together, but when he did the ‘splash’ plays fans were waiting for came to life. While it may have taken five years for Bills fans to come around on Edmunds, he has long been loved around the league. Jets’ coach Robert Saleh called him an “Avatar.” He added “he’s like a unicorn in the linebacker world. The guy’s 6-foot-5. He’s got ridiculous length, speed, range, and knock-back.” If your eyes still tell you he isn’t very productive, and you don’t want to believe me, Saleh certainly carries some defensive weight. There is a lot of talk about who the Bills should or shouldn’t sign this offseason. I believe Brandon Beane’s to-do list needs to start with re-signing Edmunds.
#5 Center Mitch Morse