After signing a number of players to futures deals immediately after the season ended, the Buffalo Bills continued to build their 90-man roster by signing S Zayne Anderson on Friday.
Anderson originally spent six years at Brigham Young University before entering the NFL in 2021 as a UDFA with the Kansas City Chiefs shuffling between the active roster and practice squad.
However, Anderson brings with him a notable injury history that may affect not only his availability but his effectiveness moving forward. Below is Zayne Anderson’s publicly reported injury history.
Suffered a “severe shoulder injury” early in his senior year that required the use of a brace to get through the season. He underwent surgery in December of 2014 in order to be ready for his freshman year at BYU. The specifics of the injury are unknown.
2015 Freshman year
Appeared in 8 games out of a possible 12 before suffering a season-ending injury, causing him to miss the final two games of the season. The details of the injury are not available at this time.
2016 Sophomore year
Appeared in 13 games, and did not appear to suffer any publicly reported injuries.
2017 Junior year
Appeared in 12 games, but missed 1 game (Wisconsin) due to an undisclosed injury.
2018 Senior year
2019 Redshirt Senior year
Appeared in 2 games, and missed 11 games due to the right shoulder surgery failing after injuring it in the season opener. He was a reserve option in the second game against Tennessee before electing to end his season. This injury was described as lingering from the failed 2018 surgery.
2020 Medical Redshirt Senior year
Appeared in 11 games, but missed 1 game due to an ankle injury, the side was not specified.
2021 Kansas City Chiefs
Appeared in 4 regular season games, and 3 playoff games. Did not suffer any publicly reported injuries.
Appeared in 3 regular season games. Suffered a shoulder injury, side not specified during the preseason during the second week of August. Missed 1 preseason game as a result.
Bills Injury Outlook
Anderson missed at least 24 collegiate games over six seasons due to injury while at BYU. During his time in the NFL, his game experience has been limited, appearing in 10 total games over two seasons, missing one preseason game.
However, he has had significant injuries to his right shoulder, dislocating and requiring surgery to repair his labrum at least twice. This doesn’t include the high school surgery in 2014 that doesn’t specify what side or procedure he required or the injury in 2015.
Adding that he suffered yet another shoulder injury in the NFL doesn’t inspire hope. Finally, looking at his statistics, he has only seen 6 defensive snaps over two seasons with the remainder of his playing time coming on special teams.
Looking at his shoulder reinjury in 2019, there is a recurrence rate of 32 percent in labrum tears after repair in the NFL according to research. I would expect the recurrence rate to be similar in the NCAA.
To see him suffer yet another tear isn’t totally uncommon, but the details of the shoulder injury from high school are unknown whether that was also a labrum tear or rotator cuff tear.
If the high school tear was indeed a labrum tear, the overall recurrence of labrum tears in adolescence is 51 percent. Interestingly, the survival rate for the surgery does decline over time depending on age which means the athlete is at risk of re-injury.
Considering he was at least age-17 during his senior year of high school in 2014, the survival rate for the surgery is 58 percent at four years out. That would have taken him to 2018 when he suffered yet another shoulder injury. After back-to-back surgeries in 2018 and 2019, he has been able to avoid major injuries.
The fact that the Bills signed him to a two-year deal tells us that they’re comfortable with his injury history, especially that shoulder, but that they likely have a specific role for him, namely special teams. The contract numbers are not available but I would expect that this is a minimum deal. He is known for his speed so to see him continue his role as a special teams contributor may allow the team to move on from several other higher-priced veterans.
I do not see Anderson as any more than a deep-depth option and special teams player. The Bills could develop him to eventually see more time in the defense, but I question how his shoulder holds up or if he begins to suffer additional injuries.
If he begins to see extensive snaps on defense, then I believe the Bills would be in big trouble as we saw in 2022 at the position.
With so much potential turnover in the secondary this off-season, it’s best to get a head start in identifying players that already have professional experience. This is simply the first of many signings that will reshape the Buffalo Bills for the 2023 season.
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