Last week, I wrote an article about the impending free agents that the Buffalo Bills will need to deal with once the NFL lockout is lifted. In that post, I made the statement that if I were Bills GM Buddy Nix, I'd be more concerned with re-signing cornerback Drayton Florence than inside linebacker Paul Posluszny.
It's a statement that contradicts not just general fan consensus, but the rumored leanings of the team, as well; it's long been assumed, and in some places corroborated as best as currently possible, that Posluszny is the team's top free agent priority. However, I've been asked by several readers to expand on my opinion since the day that article posted; there are three basic reasons I'd prioritize Florence over Posluszny.
Reason No. 1: Florence is the better football player. Both of these players fit the "dependable starter, non-superstar" category of NFL defenders. Florence fits it in a more productive manner, as he was one of the team's best playmakers last season as a full-time starter and the team's top cornerback.
Reason No. 2: Florence plays a more important position. In today's NFL, built upon personnel specialization and often pass-happy, you always pay the cornerback before you pay the non-rush linebacker. Buffalo needs better depth at both corner and inside linebacker; one position is more important than the other, and it's not Posluszny's. When Tom Brady and New England are spreading the field on Buffalo, one of these defenders is coming off the field, and it's not Florence.
Reason No. 3: The expected free agent market. Most Bills fans cite the expected markets at each player's position as a reason to favor Posluszny. I tend to think of it in reverse: Posluszny is the cream of the crop at inside linebacker, and will be paid as such, while Florence is one of seemingly dozens of solid corners available, and may not end up being a high-priority target. (That's especially true if age is factored in.) Florence may very well be had cheaper than Posluszny.
Add in Terrence McGee's unreliability from a health perspective, and it's an easy decision to me.
I'd love to see both of these players back, and there's a good chance that the team feels similarly. Posluszny borders on the territory of being a must-sign, given the team's struggles against the run and the fact that they won't get better without a little continuity somewhere. In the hypothetical debate of "if you had to retain one," however, I'm definitely picking Florence over Posluszny.