I think Buddy Nix will stay as the main football authority in Buffalo. The only changes could be caused by someone trying to get Whaley to fill a GM opening with another team. If that happens I think the Bills would promote Nix to a VP of Football Operations type role similar to John Elway in Denver or Mike Holmgren in Cleveland and then make Whaley GM. There is also a very slim chance Ralph Wilson gets involved and brings back Bill Polian, but I doubt that will happen, and would prefer it didn’t.
Chan Gailey has not preformed well enough to be brought back. His defense has been a disaster since he arrived and the offense has not been close to good enough to make up for it. To replace him I like 3 main candidates, Bruce Arians, Hugh Jackson and Marc Trestman. Seeing as though the other 2 have been covered in other plans I’ll look into the Marc Trestman option. Trestman has been in Canada with the Montreal Allouettes since 2008 and won 2 Grey Cup Championships. There were rumors (I couldn’t find a source for this post, sorry) when the Bills hired Gailey that they also interviewed Trestman so there may be some similarity there. Prior to going to Canada Trestman spent 6 years in college football, most recently in 2005 and 2006 with NC State and 17 in the NFL with various teams working with offenses. In 2002 he went to the Super Bowl with the Raiders and that’s were he starts building his coaching staff. For offensive coordinator he brings in Bill Callahan the offensive coordinator in Dallas this year and was with the Jets as offensive line coach before that. For defensive coordinator comes from Trestman’s days in Arizona, 1998-2000, and he brings in Dave McGinnis who has been coaching linebackers for Jeff Fischer in Tennessee and St Louis for the last several years. This would be a very experienced coaching staff and would allow Trestman to be a true head coach and not one of two coordinators like Gailey has been. Two quick notes, Trestman worked in Miami under Wannstedt in 2004 so there would be a chance he stays as a defensive coach. RocJeff proposed Ken Norton Jr from Seattle as DC candidate. Trestman was an offensive coach in San Fran in 1995 and 1996 while Norton was a player so there may be a connection there.
Who to Re-sign:
This is very price dependant. Outside of Byrd and Levitre I think everyone is expendable if they get expensive so I did not get very specific.
We should be in the realm of $25-$30 million in cap space after cuts and with the cap increase. I would bring back Byrd and Levitre to deals in the Eric Weddle 5 year $40 million ballpark. I would focus on Levitre first and apply the franchise tag to Byrd if necessary but have him signed by training camp either way. I would also bring back Spencer Johnson and Bryan Scott for depth if they sign reasonable contracts. Johnson is very expendable with the better play of Alex Carrington so he would have to sign a very manageable contract to stay. I’d also try to bring back David Nelson and Chad Rinehart, Donald Jones too but again it would be about price.
I would go after Dustin Keller and sign him to a manageable contract, about 4 years 8-12 million but it could be a lot less, Keller played for Callahan in NY with the Jets. I also like Kevin Ogletree in Dallas who is currently playing for Bill Callahan. Last year Josh Morgan signed a 2 year $11.5 million deal but I’d prefer something longer for less each year. I also like Rocky McIntosh for depth at linebacker. I’d spend pretty big to get a young veteran corner and would go after Cary Williams in Baltimore to pair with Gilmore. Last year Courtland Finnegan signed a 5-year $50million deal in St. Louis, I think Williams would sign for less because he has a much smaller body of work, but it could be pricey.
On a side note Trestman did coach Tim Tebow in 2010 as he prepared for the draft and spoke highly of him in a SI.com article from 2/26/10. If Tebow is available he may be a target, Trestman though coaches a lot of prospects for the draft so it’s probably nothing.
To make draft picks I went to CBSSportsline.com and went to their draft page. All their players are ranked and given projected rounds. I took players in the rounds that they were projected or earlier.
1 – QB Matt Barkley USC we finally get our long-term answer at QB. He can make all the necessary NFL throws but doesn’t have a cannon for an arm. Recent history of USC QBs and his arm strength allow him to slip to us in the draft. As a 4-year starter he has the intangibles and shown the ability to read a defense and audible at the line better then other QB's in the class.
2 – OT DJ Fluker Alabama Late in the season injuries revealed a serious lack of depth on the line. I think Hairston are Pears are solid as backups but we need another starter opposite Glenn. Fluker falls to round 2 because this is a very deep OT class.
3 – SS Bacari Rambo Georgia Nix spent a good part of the late summer looking for another safety. He even brought in Jim Leonard for a look. George Wilson and Bryan Scott are both showing their age and Searcy hasn’t shown enough to be a solid starter. This pick could also be Robert Lester from Alabama if he is available.
4 – ILB Shayne Skov Stanford this may be low for Skov so it could also be AJ Klien from Iowa State. The Bills desperately need more production from linebackers and thanks to Dave McGinnis’s history as a linebackers coach they can wait until latter rounds to find some help and develop them.
5 – WR Cody Hoffman BYU Even after bringing in Ogletree from Dallas the Bills need some depth at WR. It would not be smart to assume that Ogletree, TJ Graham or David Nelson improve enough to start opposite Steve Johnson. Hoffman is drafted late and the Bills hope that an accuracy by volume approach finds them a second starter. If Ogletree or a similar receiver is to expensive another wide receiver will probably be drafted sooner.
6 – OLB Mike Mauti Penn State Should be much higher but has suffered 2 major knee injuries so at this point so he slides. The Bills grab him and hope he can stay healthy.
These are undrafted free agents to look at or to draft with a 7th round comp pick. I’m not really sold on any of them but with only 6 picks there will still be holes to fill regards to depth and these, or similar players, would do it.
UFA Keith McGill CB Utah Big physical corner for depth after McGee and McKelvin leave.
UFA Seth Doege QB Texas Tech brought in for a backup similar to what the Redskins did with Cousins last year but without using a draft pick.
UFA Brandon McManus K Temple Lindell has had a great career but is slowing down, without a 7th round pick we need to grab a kicker after the draft.
This plan is not perfect for winning in 2013 but it should put us in a good position for 2014 and 2015. We will be weak with 2 rookies at QB but Trestman is good at developing young quarterbacks so they can grow together over time. I would also like some youth at defensive end. I’d like to bring back Kyle Moore but he may be to expensive for us if someone throws a ton of money at him and hopes he develops. Without McKelvin and McGee we may be thin at cornerback depth. I think we have enough young developmental guys so I think it will be key to add someone with experience in free agency.