Bills Free Agency; Did they get better?

By Ben Babcock

 

Offseason Grade: C+

Answer: Kind of

 

Buffalo didn’t do a whole lot this offseason, but they did address some of their biggest issues. It was very evident this season that the Bills didn’t feel that Tyrod Taylor was the quarterback they wanted, so getting a high 3rd round pick from the Browns for him is a good move for them. But giving A.J. McCarron $10 million for two years is a bit iffy. McCarron has spent all four years of his career backing up Andy Dalton in Cincinnati, only acquiring 920 passing yards on 133 attempts, over 10 games. The bills are very inexperienced at the QB position now and I would expect the Bills to still draft a quarterback this year given the number of talented quarterbacks in this year’s draft.

The other position they addressed was their defensive line. The Bills pass defense was ranked 20th in the league last year and their run defense was ranked 29th. They also traded one of their starting defensive lineman Marcell Dareus last season, so they really needed depth. They re-signed starter Kyle Williams who’s been with the Bills for 11 years, and signed free agent DT Star Lotulelei to a 5-year, $50 million contract, and signed DE Owa Odighizuwa to a 1-year deal. Lotulelei has already played for head coach Sean McDermott in Carolina which bodes well for Buffalo, but he peaked his rookie year, and Odighizuwa has had injury problems the past couple years and was also suspended for 4 games after violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs in 2017.

The Bills also signed veteran cornerback Vontae Davis who is just coming off of groin surgery this past season. Davis will definitely help the Bills secondary, given that he comes over this surgery smoothly.

They traded up to number 12 overall in the draft, sending OT Cordy Glenn and the 21st pick of this year’s draft to the Bengals, while also swapping late picks. Then replaced Cordy Glenn by signing OT Marshall Newhouse to a 1-year deal and added more depth on the O-line by signing center Russell Bodine to a 2-year deal. Depth on the offensive line is always important, especially if you have inexperienced like the Bills, so these were good moves. On top of that, they added depth at running back by signing veteran Chris Ivory to a 2-year, $5.5 million contract. While Ivory isn’t an all-star, he is still an established back and will be a good back up to starter LeSean McCoy.

Overall the Bills were able to improve crucial positions but are now very weak at one the most important position on the team, the quarterback. While Tyrod Taylor may have not been what they wanted he was still a good dual-threat quarterback who’s never thrown more than 6 interceptions in a season. So while they’ve improved elsewhere they have a big hole at QB. These improvements, however, will make it easier on whoever they choose as their new starter. They have also had a problem at wide receiver the past couple years. TE Charles Clay and RB LeSean McCoy have been the Bills top two receivers over the past two years. They did pick up WR Kelvin Benjamin midway through last season and he has the potential break out as their top receiver next season, but other than veteran receiver Jordan Matthews the Bills weren’t very deep at the wide receiver position, and he is now a free agent.

The Bills could trade up even farther to 2nd overall to take Josh Rosen and really complete their offense. There isn’t a whole lot at no.12 for QB’s unless they reach for Lamar Jackson or Mason Rudolph, or if they get lucky and Baker Mayfield falls to them  If they don’t trade up then they just add depth to the secondary and take a DB.

There are plenty of DB’s available in the mid-first round such as Derwin James from Florida State, Denzel Ward from Ohio State, Jaire Alexander from Louisville, and Josh Jackson from Alabama. Then in the later rounds take an offensive lineman,  receiver, and/or linebacker.

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