(WKBW) — Just a month into the 2018 season, the Buffalo Bills took a chance on a recently released player from a division rival by putting in an October waiver claim. What they received in return was a motivated and complementary contributor in defensive tackle Jordan Phillips to the defense taking steps forward as an overall unit.
On Tuesday, the Bills made sure they kept Phillips around for another season. The team officially announced that the defensive tackle re-signed with the team on a brand new one-year contract.
According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, the deal is worth a total of $4.5 million for the 2019 season. The 6-foot-6, 341-pound Phillips will turn 27 in the first month of the season.
The Bills initially acquired Phillips following his release from the Miami Dolphins in October of 2018. Phillips was a former second-round selection out of Oklahoma.
Joe B's Take
The move to bring back Jordan Phillips is a smart one every way you look at it for a Bills roster trying to fill plenty of holes in the offseason. Due to the retirement of Kyle Williams in the offseason, the Bills were without a player on the roster that filled the role of three-technique defensive tackle -- a critical component to head coach Sean McDermott's scheme.
Although Phillips has the size of a nose tackle or even a one-technique defensive tackle, he proved in 2018 that he could be a penetrating force from three-technique while serving as the primary backup to Williams. Now without Williams in the picture, Phillips may have a clear lane to start.
However, if nothing else, this move is about insurance for the Bills. That position along the defensive line is among the spots on the roster that I could see the Bills using one of their first two selections in the 2019 NFL Draft, which would give McDermott and defensive tackle Leslie Frazier the duo of Phillips with a rookie -- with an open competition to see who wins the job out of camp.
If the Bills didn't re-sign Phillips, it would put that much more pressure on the franchise to land one in unrestricted free agency or early in the draft. This move provides them a bit more flexibility as opposed to the rigidity of needing a potential starting option and entirely possibly even forcing it.
The move is also a smart one from a player-specific perspective, as well. There were rumblings before the Miami Dolphins released Phillips of a wavering work-ethic, which were also some criticisms he received heading into his draft year in 2015.
By giving the defensive tackle only a one-year contract, the Bills have bought themselves the automatic motivation of working toward the player's next payday. And with a price tag of just $4.5 million, the Bills also aren't committed to having Phillips be their starting player at that three-technique role.
It's a cost-effective, insurance-bearing deal that is as low risk as you'll find. If the Bills don't add a starting option at his position through the offseason, Phillips will start for the team at a modest salary.
Should Phillips have a big season with a substantial role, the Bills either have the option of trying to re-sign him to a much bigger contract, or they can let him walk and reap the benefits of him getting to the open market in the form of a compensatory selection in 2021.
If Phillips doesn't play well in a more enhanced role, it's only a one-year deal, and the Bills can walk away scot-free without anything more owed to the player. And if he doesn't wind up starting, they still have a proven rotational player to get anywhere from 20-to-35-percent of the snaps.
These types of contracts for this brand of player is a bit of a specialty for general manager Brandon Beane. As free agency opens while the Bills have as many holes as they do, it wouldn't be a shock for him to take some shots on 'prove-it' types of players that didn't exactly have the smoothest of stops in 2018.
After all, they took a chance on Phillips, and it worked. And now they have a piece in place in case the rest of the offseason falls flat at defensive tackle.