Andre Roberts was an angry man when he signed with the Bills last year.
He had put up an All-Pro season as a return man with the Jets in 2018 and yet, the Jets showed little interest in re-signing him for another season. Roberts called their negotiating “shady”. He said getting two chances a year to go against the Jets was a reason he joined the Bills.
As it turns out, Roberts got zero chances to go against the Jets last year. He missed three games due to injury in 2019 and two of them were the season opener and finale against the Jets.
Roberts won’t have to wait long for his first chance at the Jets this season. The Bills host New York week one.
It’s a good thing because his desire for revenge still burns pretty bright.
“The fire is definitely still there,” Roberts said. “As long as I’m playing for the Buffalo Bills, I’ll have that chance to play them twice. That fire still burns within me regardless of who we’re playing, but I definitely have that extra chip when I’m playing the Jets.”
Roberts didn’t quite play at an All-Pro level in 2019, but he was still pretty good. The Bills were 5th in the NFL for kick return average and 14th in punt returns.
The 10-year vet has accumulated a ton of knowledge, even in areas beyond his own responsibility.
“He’s a talented guy that knows every position,” special teams coordinator Heath Farwell said. “It’s funny. He can tell me what we’re doing on punt protection. Positions he doesn’t even play he knows the answers to. He’s just a smart guy that sat in a million special teams meetings and understands the game like nobody else.”
At age 32, Roberts is still effective in a position that usually prefers youth and speed. Farwell raves about his skill in setting up returns and blocks. He also compares Roberts’ ability to thrive on a wealth of experience to the same trait in Lorenzo Alexander.
“The players that are able to stay at that level… it’s because they are smart. They can anticipate stuff before it happens,” Farwell said. “Those are the guys that stick around for a long time.”
“Knowing the game helps me a lot, especially as you get older,” Roberts said. “You learn more things. You see more things.”
Roberts won’t tolerate any implication that he’s getting “old”. He says age doesn’t matter.
“I’m very young,” he said with a smile to reporters on a Zoom call Sunday. “I don’t know if my birth certificate was wrong, but I definitely don’t feel my age. I think I can do this a lot longer.”
If he can make it to week one, and he’ll finally get his first chance to show the Jets why they made a big mistake.