I said I would try and figure out how much money Buffalo had to spend this offseason under their cash to cap philosophy. I added up all the money they spent on new contracts and player salaries last year and subtracted all the 2009 salaries to see how much less money they had already committed to 2009. It didn't really work though and by my math the Bills only have about 8 mil less on the books heading into the 09 offseason then when they did after they signed all their rookies last year. The number that screws everything up is the Lee Evans contract. I counted Evans' salary at around 2 mil (the number it was before the extension) and his 2009 salary is 9 mil. If you were to count Evans' 08 salary as 11+ mil which it ended up being, Buffalo has a lot more money to spend. So, I've decided to take a simplified approach and just look at the major differences from last year's payroll as opposed to the upcoming season. Either way, here are the big salary differences between 2008 and 2009:
Chris Kelsay from 1.4 to 3.0
Aaron Schobel 1.5 - 3.0
Marcus Stroud 3.0 - 3.5
Donte Whitner .5 - 2.4
Brian Moorman .75 - 1.25
Langston Walker 2.0 - 3.0
Derrick Dockery 1.5 - 2.75
That's just 7 veterans, but they receive a combined 8.25 mil in salary increases from last season. Obviously cutting Kelsay would help, but that it is a pretty substantial increase without him too. This is obviously the problem with handing out big contracts to average players. The contracts are always signing bonus heavy with team friendly salaries early and as the salaries escalate each season you have money that just kind of dissappears from year to year.
Money coming off the books:
Duke Preston - about 1 mil
Melvin Fowler - 1.775
Jason Whittle - .7
JP Losman - .65
Jabari Greer - .7
Kawika Mitchell - 3.5 mil in signing bonuses and salary
Roscoe Parrish - about 1.5 mil in roster bonuses and salary
Kyle Williams - about 2.7 mil in signing/roster bonuses and salary
Spencer Johnson also has a mystery of a contract, but you can assume that he got some signing bonus money last year that will be available to spend this year. It's 12.5 mil coming off the books in addition to any relief that Johnson's contract brings.
If the Bills had been planning on throwing all that money Evans' way during the season (I think its safe to assume they were), then that is another 2.5 mil coming off the books. So by this very questionable method, it looks like the Bills don't have enough money to sign multiple quality free agents and extend Peters. I'm guessing the Bills give Peters his new deal, sign one new starter who comes with a good sized, but nowhere near superstar pricetag and sign one or two solid backup/rotational/role type of players.
Would anyone be interested in doing our own organized, realistic and fairly detailed mock offseasons? I did one in real time last year out of boredom and curiousity. I decided to do it a day or two into free agency, but what we would do is decide which current Bills to resign and offer tenders to our own RFAs. We would actually have to come up with contract offers ie: 6 years, 30 mil, 12 mil signing bonus for Greer and if he signs for a similiar contract in FA then you get him at that deal. If he gets a good amount more you would have to decide whether to beat that offer or let him go, but if he gets a contract for less, then too bad, you overpaid (the Bills don't get contract offer muligans, we shouldn't either). We would pick a dollar number that we have to sign free agents and try to work within a real budget. And then, the tough part do a real time shadow draft. When the Bills are on the clock so are you. It makes it really tough to put together an entire draft, one pick is easy or doing a mock draft before hand for every round is easy, but I really struggled in my shadow draft last year.
As an example, here is what my offseason for the Bills looked like last year: I started after the Stroud and Mitchell moves and I liked them so I kept them. I was smart enough to address FB and TE in free agency by giving Tony Richardson a two year deal for a little more a season then the Jets gave him and Ben Utecht for a similiar deal to what he got in Cinci. I traded Losman to KC for a 6th round pick (I honestly think that is all he could've fetched), but was dumb enough to sign Quinn Gray as my backup. I let Whittle and Bryan Scott (stupid I know) leave, but retained Coy Wire. Here is how my draft went last year if anyone is interested:
1 - Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
2 - Jerome Simpson - I guess I went a little potential overboard with my first two picks
3 - Jeremy Zuttah - I figured he could essentially back up every OL spot and be the eventual replacement at center. My guess is he would've replaced Fowler/Preston at some point during the season.
4 - Dre Moore - I didn't sign Spencer Johnson so I was really counting on McCargo and Moore to be a part of the rotation. Moore didn't even make Tampa's roster out of training camp.
4 - Owen Schmitt - I was calling for him with the 4th round comp pick all offseason just like 3/4 of this blog was
5 - Marcus Howard - I would have preferred a more well rounded DE, but I liked Howard's upside and potential immediate contributions better than the Chris Harrington type of players who were left I guess I should've taken Trevor Scott though.
6 - Gary Guyton - No clue how he went undrafted. Great size speed combo and was productive in college. He was the top performer in 6 speed and agility related drills of the linebackers at the combine at 245 pounds. Go figure he made the Pats opening game roster.
6 - Chauncey Washington. I felt good drafting a RB once the Bills did the same thing. I mostly just thought it was a value pick.
7 - Brandon Keith - Huge RT who made Arizona's 53 man roster. I guess Bell would have been a better pick though.
7 - Adrian Arrington - 3 picks in a row where I took the same position as Buffalo. it was weird. Johnson is another player who the Bills did a better job taking then I did.
7 - Derek Lokey - I was a little surprised nobody grabbed the hustle guy earlier in the 7th.
So is anyone interested in doing something like that this offseason? We could throw up a fanpost a couple of days before free agency to put our contract offers up and another fanpost during or after the draft to put up who we drafted. It's funny to look back after a full season and feel smarter than NFL GMs by drafting Guyton, signing Richardson and thinking that Coy Wire still had something left in the tank and then feel like an idiot for drafting Moore (who I loved), not resigning Bryan Scott, not finding something that even resembled a backup QB etc..... I even took like 70 players into training camp and made my own 53 man roster and 8 man practice squad. If we wanted to get really crazy we could try to keep our teams and do it again next offseason.
And now to finish with some random thoughts. I was wrong about Baltimore playing their CBs off the line as often as Buffalo does. I guess they were just playing it conservatve because they had the lead and Pennington had some bigs plays against them in the regular season. Baltimore still plays their CBs way off the line more than any Fewell hater likes to believe though. And after paying attention to it in the playoffs, I think every team I watched had their guys 8 yards off the line 50% of the time or more often then that.
I think Fewell's biggest problem is how unimaginative his blitzes are. I hate one man blitzes and 5 man rushes. If your going to be conservative be conservative. If your going to be aggressive and blitz, then throw multiple rushers at the QB. Our blitzes almost never work because they aren't creative, but they also stink because we don't have any great pass rushers anywhere. We don't have DEs who can take advantage of one on one matchups that blitzes create, Poz is a terrible blitzer and Mitchell is good, but not nearly good enough to beat an offensive lineman when we only blitz one and the line picks it up. I know blitzing defensive backs is only effective because the offense doesn't expect it, but we can blitz a safety or corner a couple more times a game without getting anywhere near predictable.
I think Whitner would be a great centerfielder if we could get a pass rush. I think the best way to create a great defense is to have great DEs (or a blitzing scheme, same difference for me) and have a stud safety who can sit back and play cover 1. I also think Whitner had a good year in 2007 when the Bills had to play him up in the box because their run defense was so bad. I think Whitner really struggles in that area between. He is a pretty average run defender in open space (which does make a lot of players look pretty average), he isn't a ballhawk in intermediate coverage and never makes plays and he is pretty mediocre in man coverage too. I think if Buffalo could make him a true in the box strong safety by finding a great centerfielder (Taylor Mays?) then he can be a really solid player. I also think if Buffalo miraculously finds a pass rush, then he could be a really solid cover 1 player and an above average FS. I think Whitner needs a more defined role, he isn't special enough (or special at all) to excel in a role where the team asks him to do everything.
Why does everyone think Poz will be better as an outside linebacker? Is it his great athleticism that will cause him to make great plays in pursuit? Is it his great coverage and ball hawking skills that will lead to big plays? Is he some kind of great blitzer that will make big plays moving forwards? Poz is best suited for the middle where he can use his his best ability, his head along with his solid tackling and solid ability to stick with the play despite traffic. I thought Poz was our best linebacker this year and one of the better players on our entire defense. Maybe thats just me though.
And I will finish with something to give all the Jauron haters some hope. Over the course of his career, when DJ's QB plays well, his teams win games. Some people might remember this stat I put up about the AFC East and team's records when the QB plays well. I define the QB playing well as a yards per pass attempt of 7 or higher and turning it over less than 3 times (via INT or fumble). I have added a mediocre category of 6-7 yards per pass attempt and still less than 3 turnovers and of course, the bad category of less than 6 yards per pass attempt and 3 or more turnovers. Here is how the AFC East did when their QBs played good, mediocre and bad:
good ------ mediocre ------bad
New England - 10-1 ----- 1-0 -------- 0-4
Miami ---------- 7-3 ------ 3-0 -------- 1-2
New York ----- 7-1 ------- 1-2 -------1-4
Buffalo --------7-0 ------ 0-1 ----------0-8
In Buffalo Jauron is 17-2 when his QB has a good game, 3-6 when his QB is mediocre and 1-19 when his QB plays bad. That means that under Jauron, Buffalo's QBs have averaged under 6 yards per pass attempt or turned the ball over 3 times in a game a ridiculous 20 times! Ryan Fitzpatrick and Derek Anderson were the only QBs in the league this year who had enough attempts to qualify to average under 6 yards per attempt. Cleo Lemon and Brodie Croyle were in the 5s in 2007 and Joey Harrington and Bruce Gradkowski were the only 2 in 2006. Under 6 yards per attempt is pathetic. Our QB play over the last decade has been pathetic and is the biggest reason (by far, like by really, really, really far) that this team has been in rebuilding mode all these years. If Trent can play like he did at times this season with some consistency then maybe Jauron can show all the haters that he can win in this league. I think Jauron is a pretty average coach (at best), but to lay all the problems at his feet and assume that the results of this team would be any better with another guy leading practice and calling the shots with JP Losman, a rookie Trent or turnover machine Trent is delusional.