BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Jordan Poyer returned from a foot injury to pick off two passes for the Bills in Sunday’s comeback win at Baltimore. He now leads the NFL with four interceptions through four weeks, despite playing in only three games.
The All-Pro safety is on pace to break pro football’s single-season interception record, and Poyer’s recently revised contract will pay him an additional $2 million above his $5.6 million base salary if he reaches certain performance incentives.
“Aight!” responded Poyer, after leaping out of his chair, to the former All-Pro punter. “You challenged me now. … I take challenges personally.”
Dick “Night Train” Lane holds the NFL record with 14 interceptions in 12 games playing for the LA Rams in 1952. Three players have picked off 13 passes in a season, most recently Lester Hayes, in 16 games playing for the Oakland Raiders in 1980. The Buffalo Bills record is 10 interceptions set by Billy Atkins in 14 games in 1961.
Poyer needs to finish with 12 interceptions to cash McAfee’s bet. McAfee initially set the target at 13, but later clarified that Poyer needs to surpass what they termed the “modern” record of 11 interceptions in 16 games set last season by Trevon Diggs, the Dallas Cowboys cornerback and younger brother of Bills receiver Stefon Diggs.
“Why not get 17?” McAfee added. “Let’s not stop at 13.”
McAfee noted the advantage a safety might have in getting interceptions compared with a cornerback toward whom quarterbacks could more easily avoid throwing. That prompted Poyer to explain his ballhawking philosophy.
“I like to be in every play,” said Poyer, the AFC defensive player of the week. “I like to get to the ball every play. When you run to the ball, good things happen. I’m able to play with a lot of vision within this system. I’m able to get to the ball a little bit quicker than some guys maybe playing in man, or rushing the passer, or whatever. I like to be able to tell myself every game, going into the game, be the game-changer. Make a play that changes the game.
“And like you said, I’m playing 70, 80 plays a game. One of those plays has got to come my way at some point. We’ve got a great D-line. We’ve got great linebackers that clean stuff up. And it allows me to be able to play freely in the back end.”
Entering this season, Poyer had 18 interceptions in 79 games with the Bills. He picked off five passes last season, matching his career-high set in 2017.
Poyer, 31, is in the final season of a two-year, $19.5 million deal. He skipped the Bills’ voluntary spring practices while seeking a contract extension. His career earnings exceed $36 million, according to Spotrac. His latest community service initiative is spreading awareness for people struggling with substance abuse, sharing his personal story of overcoming alcoholism.
McAfee earned more than $13 million over eight seasons punting for the Colts, which amounts to a dwindling fraction of his current annual income. The Pat McAfee Show’s deal with FanDuel is worth $120 million over four years. While some of that money is shared by co-hosts and production crew, McAfee also has signed a multi-year contract with WWE, reportedly worth $30 million per annum, and a similarly lucrative deal with ESPN and Peyton Manning’s Omaha Productions.