Two-time Pro Bowl linebacker Tremaine Edmunds is set to hit the open market after five productive years of football in Buffalo. Since entering the league, much has been said about his age as he is about to enter his age-25 season. This is in comparison when many players are still not finished with their rookie contracts.
Edmunds is expected to command a big payday should he hit the open market at the start of the league year. The Bills took a gamble in picking up his fifth-year option but not extending him earlier, seeing whether he could continue to elevate his game.
An improved defensive line this year allowed Edmunds to stay clean to make plays all over the field. Statistics aside, there was a notable difference when Edmunds played versus when he did not, most notably when he left in the first half against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 10.
The veteran linebacker is a key cog in the Bills’ defense with the decision on whether to sign him to an extension that could take him into his 30s.
Below is Tremaine Edmunds’s publicly reported injury history and considerations on whether to re-sign him.
High School Injuries
Collarbone fracture, senior year of high school, side not specified.
None were publicly reported.
2018 Buffalo Bills
Concussion, Week 8, missed 1 game
Right leg, Week 13, missed 0 games.
Low back, Week 15, missed 0 games.
No publicly reported injuries.
Hip injury, preseason, missed practice.
Right shoulder AC joint sprain, Week 1, missed 1 game. Had to wear a shoulder harness to protect the area.
Left knee injury, Week 8, missed 0 games.
Foot injury, Week 14, missed 0 games.
Hamstring injury, Wild Card round, missed 0 games.
Heat Illness, Week 2, missed the second half of the game, returned Week 3.
Hamstring strain, side not specified, Week 9, missed 2 games.
Hamstring strain, Week 4, missed 1 game.
Heel injury, Week 8, missed 0 games.
Groin injury, Week 9, missed 2 games, played through Week 10 until being forced out in the second half.
Tremaine Edmunds has missed 7 games in five seasons with the main injury concerns being soft tissue, namely hamstring and groin strains. That has made up the bulk of the games missed.
He has had a hamstring injury in each of the past three seasons which is notable but has missed minimal time. Hamstring strains can be concerning depending on his position, but considering it’s one of the most common injuries in football, it’s not something that can be totally avoided.
I would group the groin strain in with the hamstring injuries as some of the groin musculatures does assist with hamstring function. Requiring lateral mobility and sudden acceleration/deceleration stresses both muscle groups which is why he suffered the injuries in the first place.
To put his groin injury into context further, he suffered the strain against the Jets in Week 9 before attempting to play through it against the Vikings the following week. Regrettably, he re-injured the area and missed the next two games due to the Bills having a short week playing on Thanksgiving.
Finally, Edmunds did have the right AC joint sprain early in the 2020 season that slowed his production considerably. However, this was not an injury that was preventable as he fell hard to the turf while trying to make a tackle.
All of the other injuries appear to be one-off issues that did not linger or hinder him from performing.
Are there any drawbacks to re-signing Tremaine Edmunds? Other than cost, I don’t see any. He has missed just over one game a season at a highly physical position with injuries that are stressed by the demands within his role. He is the quarterback of the defense with a ton of experience making the calls that have made Buffalo one of the best units in the league during his tenure.
Compared to his running mate Matt Milano who signed a 4-year, $41.5 million contract in early 2021, Edmunds is in far better shape health-wise. Over his rookie contract, Milano missed 11 games that included four hamstring strains, a broken ankle, and a pectoral strain. This did not deter Buffalo from making him a priority as he hit the market and he rewarded them with an All-Pro selection in 2022.
Looking back at Edmunds, he will be entering his age-25 season, already has five years of experience, and could very likely continue to improve mentally and possibly even physically. At his age, there is a high likelihood that he could play himself into a third contract as long as his body holds up.
The only reason why Edmunds wouldn’t return is if his contract number is too high. According to Spotrac, he is expected to get $11 million per year, but considering what he has already done and he isn’t quite yet even at his prime, I would expect that number to increase substantially on the open market.
While Edmunds would welcome a contract that rivals Ravens LB Roquan Smith, the Bills’ front office staff has to be prudent in allocating the financial resources to not overpay for a player. I do believe it is smart to “draft, develop, and sign our own”, but at a reasonable cost. Or if this is the tried and true strategy, sign them before they outplay their current contract like Edmunds has already.
Though I am far from a cap guru, I could easily see Edmunds commanding Top 5 money, just above or between where Jets LB CJ Mosley ($17 million) and Browns LB Deion Jones ($14.5 million) sit. Whether the Bills can accept whatever his contract demands remain to be seen, but Tremaine Edmunds comes in with less injury baggage than Mosley (core muscle injury, COVID opt-out) and Jones (broken foot, shoulder procedure), missing far fewer games.
If I were the Bills, I try to re-sign Tremaine Edmunds to a new contract that might not necessarily reset the market, but factors in his youth, lack of injury history, and production to this point. He has shown to be a fairly durable player and I would expect that trend to continue barring some unforeseen major injury.
The only reason Edmunds doesn’t return is if he gets a deal that is too good to pass up elsewhere. And if he does, good for him. The Bills can’t move heaven and earth anymore to keep everyone if they want to stay competitive.
I hope Tremaine Edmunds remains a Buffalo Bill for the foreseeable future, but if he cashes in elsewhere, good for him. There does not appear to be any downside from an injury perspective that would prevent the Bills from keeping him in Western New York.
Top Photo Credit: Cooper Neill/Getty Images