Bills' Six-Year Starter filling void left by departed defensive backs

The Buffalo Bills experienced significant turnover in their defensive backfield, but the NFL's top paid nickel cornerback remains.
Buffalo Bills cornerback Taron Johnson (7) makes the tackle on Dallas Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee
Buffalo Bills cornerback Taron Johnson (7) makes the tackle on Dallas Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee / Jamie Germano/Rochester Democrat and

Buffalo Bills' nickel cornerback Taron Johnson is one of the remaining few.

At closer look, he is actually the only one remaining from that initial group of defensive backs that helped the Bills to five consecutive double-digit win campaigns from 2019 through 2023.

When Buffalo selected Johnson in the 2018 NFL Draft's fourth round, he joined a unit that featured starting cornerback Tre'Davious White along with safeties Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde. White and Poyer were released this past offseason, since landing contracts with the Los Angeles Rams and Miami Dolphins, respectively. Hyde, who is no longer under contract, is weighing a possible retirement against one more go-round on Buffalo.

It leaves Johnson, an All-Pro performer, as the elder statesmen on the back end of Buffalo's defense.

"Just being more vocal. A lot of times I would let Micah and Po talk, but I'm doing that [now]. I want to make sure I'm doing that because we have a lot of young guys that haven't been in the league that long. I think it is my job to do that for them," said Johnson following an OTAs practice in Orchard Park.

Johnson, who has made 88 regular season appearances for the Bills, will naturally miss his teammates of six years, but appears ready for his new role.

"I just saw both of them [Hyde and Poyer] this past weekend, so I'm gonna miss those guys for sure. It's time for some other guys to get their opportunities," said Johnson.

Set to turn 28 years old on July 27, Johnson is already acclimating with the new defensive backs during OTAs Phase 3.

"The way we work out there is almost like training camp practices," said Johnson. "I'm talking as if, maybe not if we got a game on Sunday, but I'm definitely to guys and making sure that, even off the field, they're studying their playbooks and watching the film to get better."

The handsomely-paid Johnson, who has the NFL's richest contracts amongst nickel corners, explained the importance of being an effective communicator in the defensive backfield.

"We always have to be communicating, and that will help us make sure we don't have any problems, or any mistakes, on the field," said Johnson.

Ralph Ventre