Poyer chooses friends, familiarity in re-signing with Bills
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Upon weighing his options, including a brief flirtation with retirement, safety Jordan Poyer ultimately chose friendship and familiarity in deciding to re-sign with the Buffalo Bills.
Even if it meant having to continue paying New York taxes, which are among the highest in NFL markets.
Addressing reporters Thursday upon signing his two-year contract, Poyer laughed about the stir he created upon complaining about the state’s tax rate during a recent podcast episode.
“I mean, sorry I said it. I said the truth,” Poyer said. “But that had nothing to do with my decision on whether or not I was going to come here or leave. I didn’t want to leave. I’m home now, and this is where I’m going to finish my career.”
Poyer returns for an 11th NFL season and seventh in Buffalo, where he’s been a six-year starter, was selected as an All-Pro in 2021 and earned his first Pro Bowl nod last season, while being part of one of the league’s top safety tandems, playing alongside Micah Hyde.
And it was a conversation he had with Hyde when the two signed with Buffalo hours apart in free agency in 2017, that also hit home for Poyer.
“It was like, 'Bro, we are going to turn this city around and we’re going to give this city a championship,’” Poyer recalled. “That’s been our goal since we got here and it hasn’t changed.”
In saying he fielded offers from numerous teams, Poyer cited far more numerous reasons that led him to stay.
There’s the unfinished business and the bitter taste Poyer had after the Bills season ended with a thud in a 27-10 loss to Cincinnati in the divisional round of the playoffs. There’s the opportunity to continue playing with Hyde, who returns after missing a majority of last season with a neck injury. There’s Poyer’s familiarity with the playbook, the coaches and the fanbase.
And not lost on Poyer was how much he invested personally into last season by playing through an assortment of injuries, including choosing to make the 14-hour drive to play a game at Kansas City in October after being prevented from flying because of the aftereffects of a punctured lung.
“Last year was probably the hardest year I’ve probably ever had to go through mentally and physically,” Poyer said. “But at the same time I wouldn’t have changed it at all. I feel like I’m a better man and a better player because of it.”
Poyer’s re-signing with the Bills was hardly a guarantee. He had previously expressed being unhappy with the team in failing to extend his contract last spring. And it was uncertain if Bills had enough salary cap room to afford him once the signing period began.
“I’m an eternal optimist, so until I hear they’re gone, I’m going to be looking at ways to get the guys back that belong here,” general manager Brandon Beane said after reaching the deal with Poyer a day earlier.
Beane gave re-signing the player a 50-50 chance after Tuesday, after several high-profile safeties reached agreements with other teams leaving Poyer still on the market.
Beane projects the Bills having about $9 million in salary cap space still available, after also signing offensive lineman Connor McGovern, receiver Deonte Harty and quarterback Kyle Allen, who will take over as Josh Allen's backup to replace Case Keenum's departure in free agency.
Buffalo stands to lose several free agents, including starting middle linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, who has signed with Chicago. Beane acknowledged the Bills lacked the cap space to re-sign Edmunds.
In other matters:
— Beane said safety Damar Hamlin continues “trending in the right direction” to be cleared to resume playing after he went into cardiac arrest and needed to be resuscitated on the field in a game at Cincinnati on Jan. 2. Beane said, Hamlin has one more medical checkup scheduled for next month.
— WR Isaiah McKenzie's future with the team is uncertain, with Beane acknowledging the sixth-year player could be cut to save salary cap space before he’s due a roster bonus.
— Kyle Allen revealed he was roommates with Bills starter Josh Allen (no relation) when the two attended a pre-draft quarterback camp in 2018.
“Well, he took the master room with the best shower and then there’s three of us sharing one bathroom and another shower. Pretty selfish roommate I’d say," Kyle said with a laugh. While Josh Allen was selected by Buffalo with the No. 7 pick, Kyle Allen broke into the league that year as an undrafted free agent with Carolina. He has a 7-12 career record, with stops in Washington and, last year, in Houston.
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John Wawrow, The Associated Press