Hello fellow rumblers! I’m a long time reader but first time poster. With all the excitement of the NFL season over, I’ve started thinking about off-season plans for the Bills and couldn’t help but concoct my own ideas and just wanted to see other people’s opinions on it.
One thing I noticed while trying to sit down and make a plan is how one move can affect your handling of the entire roster. For example, if I go out and sign Dwayne Bowe, will I have enough money to resign Leodis McKelvin or Kyle Moore? It’s amazing how one move can have such a trickle down effect. With that said, I’ll provide a brief overview of all my moves followed by a more in-depth explanation. As a warning, I don’t know how long this post will end up being.
3. McKelvin, but only if the price is right
5. D. Nelson
7. Colin Brown (tender)
9. Bryan Scott
1. Brad Smith
4. Fitz (possibly)
5. Pears (possibly)
1. Dwayne Bowe (with Ramses Barden as a much less-desired #2 option)
2. Dustin Keller
3. Matt Moore/Jason Campbell
4. Bart Scott
1. DE Ezekial Ansah
2. QB Brad Sorensen
3. LB Kevin Reddick/Best Available LB
4. BPA, maybe CB (especially if McKelvin leaves)
5. RB Marcus Lattimore
6. WR Darrin Moore Jr.
7. To SEA for T. Jackson
The QB situation is a mess. Thigpen is as good as gone and I think Jackson will be too. I could see Jackson resigning if Fitz is cut and Jackson is told he has a chance to win the starting spot. I don’t see that happening though- I think Jackson looks for a better possibility elsewhere, possibly with the Jets. The whole keep Fitz/cut Fitz debate has raged on for a long time now. I’m not here to add fuel to the fire there. Fitz is not a franchise QB. I personally do not like him, but I keep him anyway. I think a restructuring of his contract will help his chances of making the roster. His starting spot, let alone a roster spot, are not safe.
That leaves Fitz as my only QB on the roster. In free agency, I sign either Matt Moore or Jason Campbell. My QB of the future: Brad Sorensen. I know this will be an unpopular choice but I am not convinced on any of the “top” QB's in this class (at this moment, at least). For example, I don’t know if Glennon will be the next Flacco or the next Derek Anderson. I know it doesn’t mean much, but 2 years ago I loved Kaep and last year I loved Russell Wilson and Osweiler. Sorensen is the guy I like this year. I would urge people to check out his highlight video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jORMM1DxVPs. I know it’s only limited footage and the level of competition may come into question, but, man, does he have an arm and he has some ability to escape the pocket. He is invited to the Combine and I expect him to light it up. So much so that I think he drastically improves his draft stock- I take him in the 2nd round. If I’m wrong, I still think a QB like Manuel, Wilson, etc. will be available in the 2nd round.
I go into training camp with a quartet of Fitz-Moore/Campbell-Sorensen-UDFA. May the best 3 make the roster and the best man win the job. The way young quarterbacks have performed lately, I would have no problem cutting Fitz and going with Sorensen at QB. Throw the kid into the fire. Random question about that scenario: Does anybody know of a team that went into a season with three entirely new quarterbacks?
Spiller and Jackson are awesome. Tashard Choice is a free agent so I let him go. To replace him, I select Marcus Lattimore in the 5th round. I think he can recover from his knee injuries and become a very productive back. I think he’s worth the risk.
McIntyre is a free agent- I resign him. He’s good on special teams and I think Marrone may involve him in the offense a little bit more.
First off, I cut Brad Smith. I don’t think he would have a prominent role in Marrone’s offense and his limited role isn’t worth his salary. Nix wants a big-bodied WR. There’s a number of WR available, both through free agency and the draft. As I looked over my roster, I decided that I wanted to go the route of a WR who has already proven he can play at the NFL level, knowing full well it’s going to take a lot of money to do so. Yes, this is a very deep draft year for WR, but I do not want to wait for a rookie to develop and get used to the speed of the game. I go hard after Dwayne Bowe and try to get a guy that can immediately make an impact. If I lose out on Bowe, I’ll be kicking myself as I sign Ramses Barden and have an open competition for the #2 spot. Donald Jones is gone and I also say hasta luego to Ruvell Martin. I resign Nelson so my WR corps looks like Johnson-Bowe-Nelson-Graham-Easley. Regardless if I get Bowe or Barden, I draft Darrin Moore Jr. in the 6th round. How this guy didn’t get an invite to the Combine is beyond me. Everyone should watch some highlight videos of this guy. He runs some nice routes but more importantly, the way he plucks the ball out of the air and his jumping ability are crazy. I take him and hope he becomes our Marques Colston.
TE worries me. I like Chandler and hopes he comes back healthy at the start of the season, but I do not want to bank on Lee Smith as an insurance policy. There are a few halfway decent free agents available and I sign Dustin Keller to a modest contract. He’s been injured himself so I don’t think he will command too much money. And if I were him I’d want to get the hell out of New York.
I like Glenn but the right tackle spot is a little iffy. However, between Hairston, Pears, Young, and Zebrie Sanders, I am confident one of them emerges with the others providing depth. Pears may become a cap casualty depending on how the others perform.
Levitre will command top dollar, but if you’re Nix you stay true to the draft/develop your own philosophy and you open the check book for Levitre. The offensive line is finally a strength and there’s no reason to break it up now. Urbik got a new contract so that’s a good start. I also resign Rinehart and tender Colin Brown. I am more than happy with Levitre-Urbik-Rinehart-Colin Brown and I do not want to break this group up.
Wood is nice when healthy and David Snow provides good depth. The versatility of Urbik also helps here to give greater flexibility.
I think a lot of people are overlooking just how dire the situation at DE could become. Obviously, we have Mario. Aside from him, we have Kelsay, Anderson, Kyle Moore, and Merriman. I cut Kelsay. I do not even offer him a chance to restructure his contract. I never liked him and after over a decade of watching him chase down a QB after giving a handoff (mind you, this is prior to the zone-read option), I wash my hands of him. I think Anderson and Moore are very similar players. Anderson is under contract while Moore is not. I think there will be a team that overpays for Moore and, after my pursuit of Dwayne Bowe, I’m in no mood to waste money. I let him go but I do resign Merriman to a modest contract. No, he’s no longer “Lights Out,” but he can still play well in a small capacity. With Kelsay and Moore gone, my main guys left are Mario-Anderson-Merriman. I view Anderson and Merriman as valuable reserves/wave players so in the 1st round, I hope Ezekial Ansah is available and take him in a heartbeat. He’s a freak and can hopefully develop similar to JPP.
Depth is a slight concern but K. Williams and Dareus are starters and Carrington proved very dependable as a reserve (not to mention as a field goal blocking machine). I feel comfortable with Williams-Dareus-Carrington and let the other guys (Troup, etc.) battle it out for a roster spot.
I resign Bryan Scott but not Kirk Morrison. I think I’m in the minority when I say I like Scott. He’s getting older and is a liability against the run due to his size, but I would offer him a contract similar to last year- 1 year near the vet minimum. He’s decent in coverage (something that cannot be said for our other linebackers) so I think Pettine can find a sub-package role for him. Bradham was coming on strong at the end of the year while Barnett seemed to regress a bit but is still serviceable. In terms of depth, Chris White, Moats, etc. provide nothing but special team ability in my eyes. I think Bart Scott gets released by the Jets and I sign him. I actually dislike Bart Scott- he’s old, getting slow, and talks too much. But, he was with Pettine in NY, can provide depth, and most importantly, knows the system. He’ll basically be a coach, helping all the LB’s get on the same page to learn the system. I go with Bradham-Barnett-Scott-Scott with the other guys fighting it out for a roster spot. I admittingly see OLB as a weakness and view it as a problem that will take multiple years to fix (like the o-line a few years ago). My goal for the 2014 season would be to completely revamp the OLB core, with Bradham as the only holdover. That said, with my selection/versatility of Ansah and different players bringing different capabilities, I see Pettine being able to devise a game-plan that is diverse and can mask this deficiency.
I honestly don’t know who Sheppard's backup was last year- I would assume that Barnett would slide over leaving Bradham and Moats outside. Either way, I go about trying to change that. Sheppard did not impress me this year and I see him solely as a two-down LB “thumper”. In the 3rd round, I select Kevin Reddick or the best available ILB. They battle it out in camp, one gets the starting gig and the other is the backup.
I release McGee but try to resign McKelvin. I loved McGee but his time is up. McKelvin is a great returner and showed some capability as a DB this year. Again though, if it comes to a bidding war with other teams, my signing of Bowe would spell the end of McKelvin. If I can’t resign him, I draft a CB in Round 4 and rely on Justin Rogers/Easley/etc. as my returners. Outside of that, I am taking a year-long wait and see approach with the whole defensive backfield. We have a lot of your guys that we need to see develop. My ideal scenario is everyone develops nicely and Gilmore-Williams-McKelvin/draft pick-Brooks-Rogers form a nice backfield. However, if anyone falters, this is where my wait and see approach can bite me. But I take that risk. If Williams falters, I move him to strong safety where he can backup Wilson and Searcy and challenge for a starting spot in 2014 (with George Wilson gone). I then insert Brooks into the starting lineup opposite Gilmore and see if he has what it takes because he showed some flashes last year. My hope is that between Williams and Brooks, one of them proves worthy of starting opposite Gilmore. If not, CB will join OLB as my main needs heading into 2014.
Resign Byrd. Period. I know the tag is an option, but I would love to see one of the top young safeties in the game locked up long-term. At strong safety, I keep Wilson and Searcy and they both play a lot but hope Searcy develops nicely and gets more playing time as the year goes on. Silva has a chance to stick around as the 4th safety.
Lindell is under contract but I bring in competition. I don’t know who, but I would bring in the top UDFA (if we are awarded a compensatory 7th rounder, I would take a kicker. But I don’t see that happening). I’m sick of Lindell. Sure, he’s nice under 40 yards. But I want a kicker who you’re confident in even at 50 yards. Look at all the rookie kickers last year that did awesome- Walsh, Tucker, Zuerlein. I know 2 played indoors but there’s no reason a rookie kicker can’t come in and take Lindell’s job.
P: I bring in another leg but ultimately I think Powell is Nix’s guy regardless.
LS: Sandcastle, um, I mean Sanborn, isn’t going anywhere.
This is just my opinion. I feel a lot of people may disagree with my decisions at QB, LB, and CB but I hope I at least provided insight into why I made the decisions I did and it can spark some nice conversation. What does everyone think?