BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills will finally have a defensive tackle under contract past the 2023 season. The Bills have agreed to terms with 2019 first-round draft pick Ed Oliver on a four-year, $68 million extension, including $45 million guaranteed, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter. The deal will keep Oliver under contract through the 2027 season, per the source.
The $45 million guaranteed is tied for eighth-most most among active interior defensive line contracts, per ESPN Stats & Information research. With his $10.753 million fifth-year option included, Oliver is set to average $15.75 million in salary over the next five years, currently 16th among interior defensive linemen. Prior to reaching an agreement with the former ninth overall pick on the extension, the Bills did not have a defensive tackle signed for the 2024 season or beyond.
"I would like to not end the season and be at zero [defensive tackles under contract in 2024]," general manager Brandon Beane said during the team's rookie minicamp. "That would be my hope. But it would have to make sense. If it's somebody that's here, now, it would have to make sense to do an extension with any of those guys, so we'll see. You know me well. We've found a way to sometimes do an extension or two in training camp, so maybe we look at it at that point, see where the guys are at, who's all in, who's looking good, and if there's a chance to get one extended, we might look to do that."
The team has a number of veterans at the position but did not address it in the draft despite Beane saying afterward that he had hoped to do so. The team signed Poona Ford to a one-year, $2.25 million deal, including $1.5 million guaranteed, in the days after the draft. Among the returning veterans at the position are DaQuan Jones, Jordan Phillips and Tim Settle.
Oliver, 25, was set to play on his fifth-year option in 2023. He is coming off a mixed 2022 season that began with a right ankle injury in the season opener against the Los Angeles Rams. Oliver went on to miss the next three games and slowly increased his participation, with Beane describing that he "wasn't himself for a while," even after returning.
He finished the season playing 13 games with 2.5 sacks, nine tackles for loss and six pass breakups. Oliver was second on the team with a 41.5% run stop win rate (behind Jones). His season-best performance came in a Thanksgiving win over the Detroit Lions. Oliver finished the game with a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, a safety, six tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack.
"I think you have to weigh when did you think he was healthy? And what did that look like? And how did he affect the whole group," Beane said in March on evaluating Oliver. "And, you know, he definitely didn't have the production he wanted, but how much of that was affected by missing games or he was playing at 85% versus being 100%?"
Oliver has shown the ability to make splash plays over his four years in Buffalo, but coach Sean McDermott said that he would like to see him have a "real good, consistent season" and that the team had the confidence in him to do so. Senior defensive assistant/defensive line coach Eric Washington noted that Oliver's speed of processing is one area they are working on.
"When you have the kind of talent that Ed has, you gotta understand situations, that could mean the difference in separating yourself from the opponent," said Washington, who also noted he has seen Oliver being more vocal and confident this offseason. "I've gotta be able to process very, very quickly and, so that I can win my one-on-one, so I can play ahead of a play as opposed to playing with the sequence of that particular play. So, with where Ed is, from an experience standpoint, we need him to anticipate and play ahead as opposed to playing with the tempo of the play."
Oliver joins tight end Dawson Knox, who received a four-year extension in September, as the only members of the team's 2019 class still on the roster.