Could Bills Franchise LB Matt Milano?

Linebacker Matt Milano should be one of the top free agents available at his position…if he makes it that far. While speaking to reporters last week, Bills general manager Brandon Beane “did not rule out using the franchise tag” on the 26-year-old (per Jourdon LaBarber of the team’s website).

“We’d love to be able to get Matt back,” Beane added. “He knows that. I shared that with him and I’m sure Sean has as well. The business side matters. He wants to and he’s earned the right to go to free agency and see what his market bears.

“We’ll do our best to retain him and as many guys as we can. We just don’t even know the numbers yet and what it’s going to be. There’s going to be some tough decisions unfortunately for us, whether it’s letting guys go on this roster or having to watch guys leave.”

Matthew Fairburn of The Athletic adds some additional context, noting that the franchise tag would be a realistic option if the two sides can’t agree to a long-term pact. However, considering the expected $15MM franchise price for linebackers, Buffalo would likely have to cut a few players to retain financial flexibility. Sheil Kapadia and Aaron Reiss of The Athletic agree with the franchise-tag sentiment, noting that a Milano tag would be similar to last offseason when the Patriots and Vikings surprised many by franchising guard Joe Thuney and safety Anthony Harris, respectively.

A 2017 fifth-round pick, Milano has spent his entire career with the Bills, including a 2019 campaign where he compiled career-highs in games started (15) and tackles (101). He was limited to only 10 games (five starts) in 2020 due to a pectoral injury, but he still managed to compile 45 tackles and 3.5 sacks. He started each of the Bills’ three playoff games, collecting an additional 25 tackles.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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