While the Bills play wait-and-see in free agency this year, let's not let one T.O. signing make us forget exactly how difficult it has been for Buffalo to lure top-end free agents to sign the dotted line in recent years. Frankly, Buffalo is not a top-of-the-list candidate for any top flight free agent and hasn't been for many years now. Some would say they epitomize the bottom-of-the-list candidate - and that's hard to argue now watching places like Arizona and New Orleans heat up.
Everyone's money is green, but every franchise is certainly NOT on equal footing when it comes to free agency.
In my view, that has less to do with the city of Buffalo and it's infamous weather and much less to do with Ralph Wilson's spending habits than many realize. Probably the biggest single reason none of these guys view Buffalo favorably is because they don't truly perceive the Bills as being close to competing within their own division.
Okay, the weather doesn't help.
This is where Buffalo is caught in the catch 22. And like any catch 22, the only way to get out of it is to get creative, to do things a little differently than you would otherwise.
"All things being equal," as they say, most GMs will tell you that they prioritize players on draft-day first by the best player available at a position of need. If a player in that position is not available, then they are likely to take the "at-large" best player available unless there is someone there at a position of need that is "close enough."
I actually think - all things being equal - this mixed strategy is optimal. You can't simply go based on need alone because you will end up lacking elite talent. You can't simply take elite talent because you'll end up with massive imbalances in your roster. So it makes a lot of sense to employ this strategy.
However, if you consider how difficult it's been for Buffalo to lure top-flight talent from within the NFL, I think the only way they can overcome this deficiency and change the climate is to PURELY, STRICTLY, draft the best player available this season - with all of their picks (1 though 7). And in order for that to work you would have to fill in the holes with mid-level free agents (as we're seeing them do now) and hold onto your current players like a vise (as we've seen).
Nix may have realized this long before he took the job as GM and certainly none of this should be coming as a suprise to him (especially with the CBA effect this season), so in that light the current list of FA visits would make a little more sense.
If this is true however, then those of you who are debating QB, NT, and OT until you are blue in the face could be in for a huge surprise come draft day. Considering the depth on the defensive side of the ball in this draft, we could see anything in the first round... a RB... a WR??? Anything is possible if you are going purely based on best player available.
With a roster so deperately in need of elite talent, with a handicap with regards to infusing itself through free agency (on an equal footing with the rest of the league), I believe that is now the best way to go.
BPA - All the Way...