The Buffalo Bills will have a major transition on defense to contend with in 2023.
Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier is planning to step away next season, the team announced Tuesday morning. He plans to return to coaching in 2024, although it is not clear if that will be with Buffalo or elsewhere.
“I don’t know that yet,” Bills general manager Brandon Beane said during his NFL Scouting Combine news conference regarding Frazier’s future. “I think what we’re going to do is just take this year off and just let this year be, and cross that in 2024.”
The Bills have not yet named a replacement, and Beane also addressed that, telling reporters that the team is still working through its plans early in the offseason, while also pointing out head coach Sean McDermott’s eight years coordinating NFL defenses before coming to Buffalo.
“If Sean decided to take over the play-calling, I’ve seen him do it for a long time, great success,” Beane said. “He’s gone against some great quarterbacks in his day and offensive gurus that you have to beat. So that would be great if that’s the route he feels is best for us, I’m gonna support that. And full faith that he would do a great job if it came to that.”
Frazier, 63, joined Buffalo as the team’s DC in 2017 alongside McDermott and quickly built up the unit as a strength.
After ranking 26th in yards allowed in his first season, the defense catapulted to second in the same category in 2018. Overall, Buffalo has ranked sixth or better in yards allowed in four of Frazier’s six seasons and in the top two in points surrendered on three occasions — including when the Bills had the top defense in both categories during the 2021 season.
Part of that success has been thanks to the aggressive, opportunistic personality of Frazier-led defenses. The Bills have forced 158 turnovers since 2017, good for second-most in the NFL.
Frazier previously served as defensive coordinator for the Bengals, Vikings and Buccaneers, and his lone head coaching gig in the league came following a six-game stint as Minnesota’s interim HC in 2010. That season, Frazier took over Brad Childress’ 3-7 Vikings team and helped them finish the year 6-10.
He then became the Vikings’ full-time head coach from 2011-13, going 18-29-1 overall with a wild-card berth in 2012.
Other potential key absences in Buffalo for 2023 include safety Jordan Poyer and Tremaine Edmunds, who are listed as No. 20 and 27, respectively, in Gregg Rosenthal’s Top 101 NFL free agents of 2023.