With the season ending on another disappointing note, here's my take on what needs to happen in the offseason to put the Bills where they belong, in the winners circle. Starting with the front office, Buddy Nix stays exactly where he is. Prior to his elevation to GM it was actually questionable whether we would hit on first round draft picks. In three years, he has yet to fail in that important area. Chan Gailey must be let go, he appears to have lost the confidence of his players which dooms him as a coach. The awful under-utilization of C.J. Spiller is just icing on the cake. Rumors have flown that Jon Gruden had dinner with the Bills brass last week. I'm going to say that the improved but poorly used talent on this team is enough to draw Gruden back into the coaching ranks. Coming from the Holmgren coaching crew is a positive for me and that he seems to favor a horizontal attack versus vertical means that there will be less of a transition for our players on offense. Being a superbowl winning coach doesn't hurt his credentials either. I'll leave his staff up to him although I would like to see our offensive line coach and defensive backs coaches retained and the condition added to the hiring that we keep a 4-3 defense.
Nix has done an excellent job holding onto the talent that we have developed and that streak must continue for the team to advance to the next level. The Bills currently are spending $105.6 million and with the $9.25 million we have to roll over we have $24.24 million. Starting with Jairus Byrd, a five year $37.5 million should be enough to retain him. The amount is within $100,000 of what Weddle makes and Jim Overdorf does an excellent job signing our players to reasonable contracts. Moving onto the rock that is Andy Levitre, 5 years for an even $35 million, the price range is in Logan Mankins territory which is a fair comparison. Kyle Moore has shown some growth and ability as part-time end and is given a 'show me more' contract of 2 years for $3 million. Chad Rinehart could probably start at guard for most teams but in this scenario the Bills convince him to stay as the top reserve interior lineman and give him a 3 year $6 million deal. Leodis McKelvin is excellent as a returner but is insanely inconsistent at cornerback. As a depth player until Rogers, Brooks, or Wiliams is more seasoned he is valuable though. McKelvin stays in Buffalo for 3 more years and $8 million. Pairing David Nelson with Stevie as inside receivers would be a good things, Nelson is given a 4 year $16 million contract. Donald Jones and Colin Brown have uses as reserves and will be given a 3rd round tender for Jones and a 4th round tender for Brown but no extended contracts. Tarvaris Jackson should be retained but after the treatment he got from the Bills, I doubt we can convince him to stay. The remainder of our free agents are not offered contracts or tenders. List: Choice, R. Martin, C. McIntyre, S. Merriman, B. Scott, and T. Thigpen, M. Caussin. With the current numbers there isn't enough money to pay the incoming rookie class so two players get cut and two restructure their contracts to match performance. Brad Smith and Chris Kelsay are released outright, neither has performed very well and Kelsay now has a neck injury which won't help his performance. Ryan Fitzpatrick and George Wilson were both starters this year that will not be next year so they have their salaries cut in half. If they don't agree, they get their walking papers but I doubt they'll argue much.
Drew Stanton is my one and only target in free agency for depth at quarterback and would be told on arrival that he would be a backup, similar to what Vince Young was told when he was brought into camp this year. What cap room is left should be saved for surprise cuts from teams that have excess players at certain positions as happens every year.
Round 1-#6 overall- Mike Glennon, QB NC Sate
I don't think we'll need to trade up unless the Jets try to jump us, so in this scenario we have our quarterback of the future. Scouting report: http://nflsfuture.com/2012/12/15/mike-glennon-scouting-report/
Round 2-#41 overall- Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
Nix has gone on record specifically listing QB and WR as two major needs. Here is the other outside receiver to complement Graham. Hunter has played all three WR positions in college and should be ahead of the curve. Scouting report: http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/draft/players/1737463/justin-hunter
Round 3-#72 overall- Morgan Breslin, DE, USC
With the release of Kelsay, an infusion of young talent is needed at DE and I think Breslin can do that in rotation with Anderson.
Round 4-#103 overall- Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB, Conneticut
Another tall, athletic corner to compete with Williams/McKelvin/Brooks for the starting role opposite Gilmore.
Round 5-#134 overall- Trey Millard, FB, Oklahoma
This guy is a freaking animal and I love him as Cory McIntyre's replacement. He just declared for the draft and is the complete package. His blocking is very good and he adds a lot more athleticism to the position than we have had there recently.
Round 6-#169 overall- Duke Williams, FS, Nevada
Big hitting free safety has a sprinters background but loves to make huge hits. He has an arrest for underage drinking which might cause him to drop more than he otherwise would. Here is Jairus Byrd's backup and intimidating presence when we need him.