Gregory Rousseau

Bills Expected To Pick Up Greg Rousseau’s Fifth-Year Option

The Bills lost Leonard Floyd in free agency last month, seeing their 2023 hired-gun edge rusher sign with the 49ers. Von Miller‘s 2022 ACL tear also led to the future Hall of Famer displaying concerning form last season. This makes Greg Rousseau a rather important piece as Buffalo retools on defense.

Rousseau has not made a Pro Bowl or produced a 10-sack season, operating more as a sidekick — to Floyd last season and, pre-injury, to Miller in 2022 — but the 2021 first-round pick has played well at points for the Bills. They are likely to push his rookie contract through the 2025 season.

Buffalo has until May 2 to exercise Rousseau’s fifth-year option, which checks in on Tier 3 of the option structure due to the former No. 30 overall pick’s playing time and lack of a Pro Bowl honor. They should be considered likely to exercise the $14.58MM figure. GM Brandon Beane said (via ESPN.com’s Alaina Getzenberg), “I don’t see why we wouldn’t” pick up the defensive end’s option.

Rousseau has started all 46 games he has played, including 17 during his rookie season. His single-season sack high came in 2022 (eight); the Miami alum reached that total despite missing four games due to injury. Last season, Rousseau totaled five sacks and a career-high 18 QB hits in 16 games. Floyd, Rousseau and A.J. Epenesa — whom the Bills recently re-signed to a two-year, $12MM deal ($6.6MM guaranteed at signing) — served as Buffalo’s top D-ends last season, with Miller going sackless after returning from the knee injury.

The Bills have not trusted their homegrown edges on their own since the 2021 season. They gave Miller a six-year, $120MM deal in 2022, one that included guarantees into Year 3. A Miller suspension in connection with a domestic violence arrest would void his 2024 guarantees, which would give the team a decision to make after the 35-year-old edge submitted a concerning 2023 season. As of now, the Bills expect Miller to be on the 2024 roster.

But the team will likely make another move to bring in someone to at least supplement Rousseau and Epenesa. The Bills did add ex-Commanders depth piece Casey Toohill recently, but they probably need a bit more help at the position. After trading Boogie Basham to the Giants just before last season, the Bills have Rousseau and Epenesa representing their homegrown DE core. This duo could well stay together through 2025.

Bills DE Greg Rousseau Changes Agents

Bills defensive end Greg Rousseau is entering the all-important third season of his NFL career, and he has made a change in representation. Per Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network (Twitter link), Rousseau, who was previously represented by Drew Rosenhaus, has hired Ness Mugrabi and David Canter of GSE Worldwide.

Once a player accrues three years of service time, he becomes extension-eligible. So while Rousseau obviously needs to complete the 2023 season before he and his new agents can enter into negotiations with Buffalo brass, Mugrabi and Canter will at least have plenty of time to get familiar with their client and prepare for those discussions.

Rousseau, the No. 30 overall pick in the 2021 draft, took a step forward in his second professional campaign in 2022, despite missing time with an ankle injury. The Miami (FL) product posted eight sacks last season after recording four sacks in his rookie year, and he earned a stellar 80.9 overall grade from Pro Football Focus, which placed him 20th out of 119 qualified edge defenders. PFF thought especially highly of his pass rushing ability, which is the most critical trait for his future earning power.

That said, Rousseau accumulated four of his eight sacks in the first four games of the season, so the Bills will be looking for more consistent production if they are going to authorize a contract that will put him anywhere near the top tier of edge players, who are among the biggest earners in the NFL. Indeed, unless he forces the team’s hand with a Pro Bowl-worthy year, Buffalo may be content to play the waiting game, as Rousseau will still be on his rookie deal through 2024 and can be retained via the fifth-year option in 2025 (and via the franchise tag beyond that).

A review of GSE’s NFL clientele suggests that the agency does not represent many high-end pass rushers, with the Cowboys’ DeMarcus Lawrence a notable exception. No reason was given for Rousseau’s decision to part ways with Rosenhaus.

Latest On Josh Allen’s Status; Jordan Poyer, Greg Rousseau Out For Week 10

The prime catalyst for the Bills’ recent rise, Josh Allen has not missed a game since Week 10 of the 2018 season. That particular Bills campaign — a rebuilding year centered around the quarterback they traded up twice in Round 1 to draft — did not present high stakes, allowing for considerable caution with Allen.

The landscape is different this year, leading to Allen’s latest elbow injury receiving more attention. Allen’s practice week ended up going DNP-DNP-limited, with CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson noting the Bills signed off on a limitation-gauging Friday session (Twitter link). He received the vague questionable injury designation. The superstar quarterback is battling a UCL sprain.

While Allen played through the injury to finish the Jets matchup, this issue also affects nerves — thus, the fifth-year passer’s ability to grip the football — and we have a past indicator of how the Bills handled this injury. Allen, 26, expressed confidence he can play through his latest bout of elbow trouble; it remains to be seen if the Bills will allow that to happen. Concern exists Allen could tear the oft-discussed (in baseball circles) ligament, Armando Salguero of Outkick.com notes. A Tommy John surgery could sideline Allen into next season.

The Bills shut down Allen for four games because of a UCL injury in 2018; the Wyoming talent ended up sitting five weeks due to Buffalo’s bye falling in that recovery window. Allen missing that much time this year may not be in play just yet, with Sean McDermott indicating (via The Athletic’s Joe Buscaglia, on Twitter) the team is taking it “one hour at a time” with its centerpiece player.

With a top-tier roster that has pushed the Bills to the Super Bowl contender tier, the team has a better insurance option compared to 2018 as well. Buffalo sent a seventh-round pick (No. 246 overall) to Cleveland for Case Keenum. The 11th-year QB has made 64 career starts, with six teams, since 2013.

Keenum’s most notable year came with the Vikings in 2017, when he led the NFL in quarterback DVOA and — on a one-year, $2MM deal — piloted Minnesota to the NFC championship game. Keenum, 34, is attached to a $3.5MM salary this season. His contract expires after 2022. Although Keenum gives the Bills a decent backup option against the Vikings, the talent gulf between Buffalo’s first- and second-stringers is obviously wide.

The Bills will also be without Jordan Poyer for a second straight week, and second-year defensive end Greg Rousseau will miss Week 10 as well. An ankle injury sustained last week will shelve Rousseau, with cornerback Kaiir Elam also given a doubtful designation. Some good news for Buffalo’s No. 1-ranked scoring defense also emerged this week. Matt Milano is expected to return, Buscaglia tweets. The high-end linebacker missed Week 9 with an oblique issue. The Bills activated Tre’Davious White off the PUP list last week, and while the team’s top corner does not have a Week 10 injury designation, McDermott did not guarantee he would debut Sunday. White has not played since suffering an ACL tear on Thanksgiving 2021.

Edge Notes: Ravens, Lions, Browning, Hawks

After letting both Matt Judon and Yannick Ngakoue walk during the 2021 free agency period, the Ravens acquired a first-round pick in the Orlando Brown Jr. trade. The team entered the draft determined to use one of its two first-round choices on an edge defender, but strategy played a role in the team ending up with Odafe Oweh. The Ravens would have been happy with either Oweh or Greg Rousseau, Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic notes, but also wanted to leave last year’s first round with a wide receiver.

We heard previously the Ravens expected the Packers to select Bateman, whom several execs viewed as the team most likely to draft the Big Ten prospect. That played into Baltimore’s edge defender blueprint as well. The team had Oweh and Rousseau ranked similarly on its 2021 draft board, Zrebiec adds, leading to Bateman being prioritized with the No. 27 pick. Waiting for No. 31 to make its edge rusher selection paid off, as Oweh remained on the board. The Bills took Rousseau at 30. (The Packers took cornerback Eric Stokes at 29.) Through 1 1/4 seasons, Oweh has six sacks, four forced fumbles and 17 quarterback hits. Rousseau checks in with similar production, having tallied eight sacks — four already this season — along with one strip and 16 QB hits.

Here is the latest from the NFL’s edge defender landscape:

  • The Ravens used Jason Pierre-Paul extensively alongside Oweh in Week 4, playing the recently signed veteran on 55 defensive snaps. Their one-year Pierre-Paul deal is worth $1.35MM, according to OverTheCap. The contract includes a $150K signing bonus and playing time- and sack-based incentives that could take the price north of $5MM, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. This is a lower-priced deal than JPP is accustomed to signing, but he has a chance to be the rare free agent to sign in-season and earn potentially far more than the veteran minimum.
  • The Lions will be waiting a bit longer to deploy their two-Okwara edge-rushing attack. Eligible to return from the Lions’ PUP list this week, Romeo Okwara will likely need more time to recover from his 2021 injury, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press notes. Okwara, who suffered an Achilles tear just more than a year ago, did not return to practice this week when first eligible.
  • Detroit’s pass rush, when at full strength, is set to include Romeo and Julian Okwara, Charles Harris and first- and second-round picks Aidan Hutchinson and Josh Paschal. That said, the Lions are adding another edge rusher to the equation. Rookie UDFA Demetrius Taylor is going to play defensive end in his debut this week, Birkett notes. Signed as a UDFA defensive tackle, Taylor will shift to a big D-end role as the Lions attempt to pick up the pieces on defense. This will likely lead to Hutchinson, who had previously played the team’s “big end” spot, rushing from around the formation, per Birkett. Taylor saw some time at D-end at Appalachian State.
  • It will not be second-round pick Nik Bonitto getting the call to replace Randy Gregory; Baron Browning will play that role for the Broncos beginning Thursday night, Troy Renck of Denver7 tweets. This will be an interesting stretch for Browning, whom the Broncos used as an inside linebacker during his 2021 rookie season. The third-round pick moved to the outside this offseason, helping lead to the late-August Malik Reed trade, and has impressed the coaching staff. Bonitto, who began the season as a healthy scratch despite being Denver’s top 2022 draftee, will see more time as a rotational cog behind Browning and Bradley Chubb.
  • The Seahawks will give second-rounder Boye Mafe more playing time, Pete Carroll said this week. This will be interesting considering the rookie logged a season-high 32 defensive snaps against the Lions. Mafe, who has one sack thus far this season, registered 10 in his final college campaign.

Bills Sign First-Round DE Gregory Rousseau

The Bills used first- and second-round picks on defensive ends this year. Both are now under contract. Gregory Rousseau signed his rookie deal Thursday, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

Selected 30th overall, Rousseau will receive $11.367MM guaranteed. The Miami alum will be expected to help a Bills team that featured no pass rusher surpass five sacks in 2020. The Rousseau pick preceded Buffalo selecting Wake Forest’s Boogie Basham in Round 2. Basham signed his rookie deal last month. Rousseau’s rookie deal, unlike Basham’s, can run through 2025 (via the fifth-year option).

Both Rousseau and Hurricanes rusher Jaelan Phillips went off the board, to AFC East teams, in Round 1. The Dolphins took Phillips ahead of the Bills’ selection. Rousseau had Phillips one-upped after his most recent college season, 2019, when he posted 15.5 sacks and forced two fumbles. But Rousseau opted out of his junior season and did not generate momentum during the pre-draft process.

Buffalo will bet on his breakout sophomore season being a better indicator of his potential. Rousseau did not record a sack as a freshman in 2018, playing in only one game, and ranked 48th among this year’s prospects, per Scouts Inc. The 6-foot-6 edge defender played in just 14 games at Miami. This certainly increases the risk of the Bills’ pick.

The defending AFC East champions, however, now have a wealth of notable defensive ends on their roster. Rousseau and Basham join 2020 second-round pick A.J. Epenesa and returning starters Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison.

Miami DE Gregory Rousseau Opts Out

The 2021 NFL draft may feature a player with one season of college experience. Miami defensive end Gregory Rousseau informed coach Manny Diaz he is opting out of the 2020 season, per Susan Miller Degnan of the Miami Herald (on Twitter).

Rousseau broke out last season and landed on the draft radar. He registered 15.5 sacks — tied for the third-most in ACC single-season history — and a conference-best 19.5 tackles for loss. Technically, Rousseau saw action as a true freshman but not enough to use up a year of eligibility. As a result, he stands to go from his redshirt-freshman season to the NFL draft — in all likelihood.

The 6-foot-7 pass rusher would be eligible for the draft, due to being out of high school for three seasons. ESPN’s Todd McShay rated the Miami talent as his top edge defender prospect, with Rousseau coming in at No. 13 overall.

After Virginia Tech cornerback prospect Caleb Farley opted out, others are following suit. While the NFL season will be defined by the coronavirus, the pandemic is wreaking greater havoc at the college level. The Power 5 conferences have all changed their schedules, with lower-level football leagues either postponing or cancelling seasons. It will certainly not be a surprise if more first-round prospects pass on playing this season.