Buffalo Bills Free Agency Potential Re-signing: AJ Epenesa

Buffalo Bills Free Agency Potential Re-signing: AJ Epenesa

The theory of draft, develop, retain has been a key component of the Buffalo Bills ever since Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane came to Western New York. Their theory will be put to the test this offseason with the decision on whether to keep AJ Epenesa a Buffalo Bill or let him see what he can command on the open market. 

After securing 6.5 sacks in each of the last two seasons, Epenesa has rounded into form to what he was perceived as a potential first round pick in 2020. The Bills got a deal selecting him in the second round that year but it took him a while to finally produce. This might be a year or two too late for the Bills to cash in on their development of him, but development and progress is not linear.

Below is AJ Epenesa’s publicly reported injury history and considerations on whether to re-sign him.

Injury History

Pro Injuries 

2020 Bills

Concussion, Week 10, missed 0 games.

Head injury, Week 15

2021 Bills

Foot injury, suffered in practice prior to Week 5, missed 0 games.

Ankle injury, suffered in practice Friday prior to Week 15, missed 1 game.

COVID, Week 16, missed 1 game.

2022 Bills

Left ankle injury, Week 11, missed 1 game.

Left elbow injury, Week 15, missed 0 games.

2023 Bills

Quad injury, Week 6, missed 0 games.

Left Rib Cartilage fracture, Week 14, missed 2 games.

Injury Concerns

Epenesa has missed four games due to injury since entering the league in 2020. The worst injuries he’s had were the left rib cartilage fracture this past season and the concussion back in 2020. His rib cartilage injury was the result of falling on a Patrick Mahomes interception and then getting crushed by an offensive lineman while holding the ball against his ribs. 

Outside of the ankle injuries in 2021 and 2022, there are not any other injuries that have shown a pattern. Epenesa suffers one-off injuries and misses minimal time. It’s not expected that he would avoid injury altogether, but he has managed to avoid the soft tissue injuries or unfortunate injuries such as getting rolled up on or significant breaks. 


There are really no drawbacks to signing Epenesa. He had his best season and has shown to be healthy when the team has needed him. The best predictor of future health is past injuries and nothing in Epenesa’s history suggest he is at risk for anything notable. 

Market Value

According to Spotrac, Epenesa will command a contract with an AAV of $5.6 million. Considering his age, he will look to get a multi-year deal from the highest bidder. Comparable contracts include Charles Omenihu, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Dorance Armstrong, and Bilal Nichols. 

While I do know injuries and football, my knowledge of comparable players is less than others in certain instances. While I am familiar with some of these names, I would be lying if I felt that Epenesa was better or worse than these players in this case. 

The comparable contracts proposed in the link above are a little rich for what I’d be willing to pay for what Epenesa has done. I compare Epenesa’s situation as to what Shaq Lawson did in his final season in Buffalo back in 2019. He finally produced and left in free agency for the money available to him. He did not live up to his contract and bounced around before finding his way back to Buffalo. 

Final Thoughts 

As much as the Bills could benefit from bringing Epenesa back, they have to be smart how they handle this negotiation. The scheme he plays in now and the familiarity may be the best thing for his future. This is one contract that the Bills can put some effort into to try and keep him around before they let him walk.

They should have a number they’ll go up and potentially counter other offers to but let him walk to sign elsewhere if he goes over that threshold. His relative lack of injury history, age, and potential market could allow him to cash in with another team.

However, if Epenesa signs elsewhere, I’m not certain that he will necessarily live up to his new contract and sustain his current production.

That new team would paying him for the potential to continue to improve which he very well could do. If he signs a big contract, this can be used to help the Bills secure a later compensatory pick. If he doesn’t produce, let that be the problem for the next team.

I wish AJ Epenesa the best of luck in free agency this offseason. 

Top Photo Credit: Cooper Neill/Getty Images