I had a hard time writing my entry for the BROP. It was hard for met to focus not on what the Bills are actually going to do, but what instead I want them to do.
I will divide my analysis according to the offseason calendar. My post will be organized as follows
1- Black Monday Activity - This section will focus on coaching staff and front office changes that I would make as Owner/GM.
2 - Turnover of the current roster - This section will focus on any cuts I would make as GM, any resignings, and any non-tenders.
3 - Free Agent Additions - This section will discuss new signings from other teams
4 - Mock draft
5 - Salary cap analysis - This will be my math section, showing how I make all of my moves work for Buffalo.
1. Black Monday Activity.
Its fitting to start my post with analysis of what I'd do on Black Monday. Being on the eve of Black Monday, I am very excited to see some change. I have struggled to decide whether I want a wholesale house cleaning or more simple remodeling.
For my BROP, I've decided I prefer wholesale house cleaning. Thats not without a bit of apprehension though. I commend Nix for the job he's done. He has brought the organization closer to a normal functioning organization than his predecessors. His hiring mercifully represented a return to a traditional NFL heirarchy in Buffalo. He made some bold decisions that paid off (Spiller). He retained key talent like Stevie, Urbik, Kyle Williams and others. He made the first splash we've seen in Buffalo in a long time. I give Nix a lot of credit for doing a pretty respectable job.
Nix's failures ultimately doom him when I'm GM. Three failures stand out. He never invested in developing a young quarterback over the last three years. No meaningful effort whatsoever has been made to identify and develop a young signal caller. Whats the highest pick Nix invested in a QB??? Levi Brown! Thats ludicris and unacceptable for mcgrathp as GM of this team. He walked in the door knowing that he didnt have a franchise QB. Gailey allowed Fitzy to masquerade as a passable starter, but his deficiencies were always obvious. As a man paid to be the top personnel evaluator on this team, he failed us fans. His failure is all to apparent to us fans. For the last decade, we have seen painfully obvious faults which the team has refused/failed to address. Nix addressed some of those holes (OT, TE) very well, but refusing to find and develop a young QB is a distinct and fatal flaw to his tenure.
Behind his failures at QB, the decision to force the 3-4 switch is a monstrous flop. Most funamentally, he failed us fans when he hired Gailey. Gailey was an out of work, not in demand offensive coordinator. He was fired by Kansas City and didnt seem to have anyone competing for his services as coordinator. The Bills could have had Gailey as our offensive coordinator if Nix loved Gailey. I'm not saying Gailey would have been a perfect OC, but we could have received the same "expertise" he provided to the team as head coach through his services at OC. I personally think this team would be in a much different position now had Nix grabbed a guy like Marty Schottenheimer and stuck Gailey at OC.
Long story short, I'm firing Buddy Nix. I will not hire anyone current working for the Buffalo Bills. I am tired of nepotism and cronyism in Buffalo. For too long, Ralph has been like a teenager who got his heart broke. He's been afraid to trust someone from outside the organization, for fear it'd turn bad like Butler, Donahoe, Polian, etc. I'm sick of his cronyism. I would consider two individuals for the job. I'd seriously consider Bill Polian first. Polian has a track record of darn good work, but for the end of his time in Indy. His ties to the glory days here don't hurt either. Ultimately though, the sour end of his time in Indy is hard for me to accept. He really did a bad job bringing in talent in Indy his last few years. I can't look past that.
Instead, I'm going with a guy mentioned in several places. I'm going with David Caldwell, the current Atlanta Falcons Director of Player Personnel. I like his regional ties. I like the fact that he's worked under an excellent GM in Dimitroff. I like that he'd bring a fresh perspective to Buffalo. I'm welcoming change and bringing in some fresh blood with Caldwell. He's Dimitroff's right hand man and has, per Dimitroff, been instrumental in developing that roster into the #1 seed in the NFC. I also like his youth.
I'm clearly firing Chan Gailey. I think he's a nice enough guy, a good enough coordinator but a terrible head coach.
The next question I considered is who do I want as the next Bills coach. I know I'll be developing a young QB and I like the idea of getting an offensive leader to mentor the young QB. I'd like to bring in a really strong, firey defensive minded leader though. Special teams coaches bring some appeal since they have experience working with both offensive and defensive minded players. John Harbaugh's success in Baltimore opens the door for some consideration of a special teams guy. I'd really try to interview a cross section of different types of coaches before decide. I have ruled out current announcers because I frankly do not believe the Bills have a shot with any of them. We aren't a sexy enough destination to lure a good coach out of a cushy post.
Special Teams Coaches to consider
1 - Dave Toub - Chicago Bears special teams coach. He was considered in the past for the Miami job. He's led a top notch special teams unit for years.
2 - Joe DeCamillis - Dallas Cowboys ST coach- From what I read, he's well regarded, generally thought of as head coach material
Defensive minds (I wouldn't consider a 3-4 coach, to avoid reliving the failed 3-4 experiment)
1 - Mike Zimmer - Bengals DC - Firey defensive leader. Has done good work at several stops. Turned a once dreadful D in Cincinatti into a good unit.
2 - Gus Bradley - Seahawks DC- Good coaching pedigree, working with Kiffin in TB. He's done a nice job turning Seattle into a fearsome defensive unit. Developed a lot of young talent under his watch
1 - Jay Gruden - Bengals OC - I hate to keeping looking to Cincinatti, but Gruden has done great with Dalton and Green. I like his experience as a QB mentor.
2 - Kyle Shannahan - Redskins OC - Again, like his work with a young QB in Griffin. Has worked with other well regarded QB's in the past like Cutler and Schaub. Its hard to get past my Mike Shannahan dislike though.
1 - Ken Whisenhunt - It seems he's going to be fired by ARI. He's struggled lately, but with terrible talent at the QB position. The failure of the team to build an offensive falls as much on Graves failures to develop a good offensive line and his miss with Kolb. I don't blame him for Arizona's struggles since the Superbowl appearance.
I'm going to hire Ken Whisenhunt as the head coach. I like his experience. I dislike the struggles in Arizona, but ultimately feel that no one could have won games with the garbage he had at QB. I think Whisenhunt also is well respected enough to bring some talent with him to Buffalo in terms of his assistant coaches. One of the problems in Buffalo over the last decade has been not just bad head coaches, but terrible assistants. I hire Whisenhunt and instill in him my expectation that he assemble a top staff around him.
2. Turnover of current roster.
I'll be a bit more brief in my remarks on the current roster. I'm only keeping Jarius Byrd, Andy Levitre, Bryan Scott, Leodis McKelvin, and Corey McIntyre. I keep Corey McIntyre because of the value he brings on special teams. I am signing Byrd to Weddle's contract ($3.6 million cap hit in year 1). I am signing Levitre to a contract similar to Ben Grubbs ($4.973 million cap hit in year 1). I am signing Corey McIntyre for one more year of his current deal ($1.1 million). Scott gets the same as McIntrye, basically the same deal as last year though with a modest raise ($1.25 million). Leodis McKelvin is an odd case. He is a kick returner getting a deal for those skills, more than his CB skill set but he can contribute at CB. I give him a deal like Brad Smith got from Buffalo ($3.5 million cap hit, year 1).
Of the restricted free agents, I tender Jones ($1.927), Nelson ($1.927) and Rinehart ($1.26). I'd like to lock Rinehart up long term but don't think it will work this offseason. I know the low tender is risky for Rinehart, but frankly if someone wants to trade me a third round pick for Rinehart I just might take it.
I'm cutting Fitzy ($4.45 million saved per ESPN), Kelsay ($3.725 million saved), George Wilson ($3.4 million saved), Terrance McGee ($2.1 million saved), Brad Smith ($2.75 million saved) and Erik Pears ($1.7 million saved). I believe this saves me a total of Nick Barnett is on the bubble, but stays because of his veteran leadership. All told, I created $18.225 in extra cap space.
3. Free Agent Acquisitions.
Going into free agency, my goals include acquiring a solid, veteran #2 quarterback, a starting SS and possibly a starting caliber cornerback. I'm poised to make a splash when the ball drops on free agency for the Bills. I'll list my targeted signings in a prioritized order below.
1- William Moore - SS - ATL Falcons - My new GM is familiar with Moore. When healthy, he's dynamic. He is a playmaker who can hit you in the mouth and can cover the pass well. I know ATL will want him, but we go hard after him from the start and show him how much he's wanted. He's the starting SS for the new look defense once we sign him. I sign him to a deal like Roman Harper, with a cap hit of about $4.5 million in year 1.
2 - Brent (Frank) Grimes (aka Grimey) - CB - ATL Falcons - This past year we've seen the birth of a future star in Gilmore, but general struggles from the rest of our young CB's. I'm nabbing Grimes, hopefully at a bit of discount since he's coming off a season ending injury. Again, I think Caldwell goes to what he knows, former ATL Falcons. I figure he's gonna cost about what Corey Webster costs ($9.0 cap hit)
3 - Matt Moore - QB - Miami - Moore would get an incentive laden deal from me hoping that he'd be open to taking it with the possibility that he'd beat out a rookie incumbent. I think Moore can start in this league, but that you wouldnt want him doing it for long. I'm hoping he'd sign for the salary of a top backup quarterback, similar to Kyle Orton's deal with Dallas ($3 million cap space in year one)
4. Mock Draft
I love mock drafts. For the Bills, I'm approaching the draft looking for a young QB, a starting DE, a possible starting OLB, I want to add depth at OT and at CB. Finally I want a stretch the field WR with some size.
1 - Damontre Moore - DE - Texas A&M - I pick Moore over Teo. I just don't like grabbing a linebacker in the top 10, even if it is a guy like Teo who I think could be a Buffalo defensive staple for years to come. I grab Moore hoping he can learn from Williams and be mentored by him. I don't see Glennon getting to Buffalo. I think he's gone at Jacksonville's pick, and we lack the ammo to move up that far. I'd add Moore with an eye to replacing Anderson in 2013. WIth a rotational front 4, Moore is an asset even with Anderson and WIlliams on the roster
2 - Tyler Wilson - QB - Arkansas - I grab Wilson with hopes that he can develop into the star he once looked like he would be. He suffered through a pretty tough season this last year. I blame that on the head coaching mess at Arkansas.
3 - Carravelle Patterson - WR - Tennessee - I love this kid. He's got an elite blend of size and speed. He's still developing on the field, but really looks like a guy who can do it all. He stepped in when DaRick Rogers left school because of his love of drugs. Patterson played well and showed he's got a heck of a skill set. He's got the combination of size and speed that the Bills need.
4- Gerald Hodges - OLB -Penn State - I grab Hodges with hopes hes Barnett's success as the Bills three down linebacker. He was a leader on an impressive Penn State team. I like his size, expierence, and his projectability as a three down backer.
5 - Alex Hurst - OT -LSU - Big bodied tackle to fit in with the style of player the BIlls like. Nice blue collar, hard worker, big bodied OT.
6 - Ray Graham - RB - Pittsburgh - This pick is solely desired to keep Tashard Choice from ever playing a down as a Buffalo Bill again. Enough said
7 - Craig Roh - DE -Michigan - I need depth at DE so I nab Roth, whose size and work ethic appeals to me.
5 . Salary Cap
We started with 24.25 million in available cap space. I spent about $19.54 million keeping our own guys around, reducing the salary pool to $4.71 million before cuts. I saved $18.23 million with cuts, taking me back up to $22.94 million in space before free agency. I spent $16.5 in big free agents. That leaves me about 4-5 million for much needed roster fodder and depth.