With free agency a week away, the Bills are in the final stages of turning a joke of a franchise into a possible contender. While names such as Dwayne Bowe and Paul Kruger come to mind as top targets of the Bills, I'm a "build through the draft and add cheap, quality role players in free agency"
The Mario Williams signing was an exception to that, but the Bills aren't in a position to spend significant cash this offseason, especially with the contracts needed to extend Jairus Byrd, along with future players up for deals including, but not limited to: Eric Wood, Marcell Dareus and C.J. Spiller.
The goal of this mock offseason is to add multiple players that fit the specific roles required on both sides of the ball.
With the salary cap set at $123 million and the great piece by zen_bills that broke down the Bills current salary situation, the team has roughly $18.5 million to spend in free agency after placing the Franchise Tag on Jairus Byrd ($6.916 MM).
Reminder: You can't keep them all :(
Bills Free Agents
Andy Levitre- Departs in free agency
DE Kyle Moore- 3yr/$5 million deal ($1.67MM per)
Kyle Moore performed well throughout the year. Sign him to a relatively inexpensive deal on par with his value compared to available DEs. His positional versatility makes him attractive in Pettine's D
OG Chad Rinehart- 2yr/ 2.5 million deal ($1.25MM per)
With Levitre gone, Rinehart is a serviceable guard for the season, and shouldn't have a big market for his services. Reasonable deal to prove himself.
FB Corey McIntyre- 1yr/$950k
McIntyre wants to test free agency, but at 34-years old, he's not getting anything more than the vet minumum. Might as well stay with the team that will actually utilize him with Marrone/Hackett new scheme.
ILB Brad Jones, Green Bay Packers- 4yrs/$12.2 Million Deal (2.3MM Per)
Brad Jones isn't a household name but he will be a perfect fit for Mike Pettines defense. He played 829 snaps with the Packers last year, made 83 tackles and two sacks. He's 6'3" 242 and is versatile. He played both outside linebacker positions in addition to both weak and inside linebacker spots in Dom Capers' 3-4.
OLB Erik Walden, Green Bay Packers- 3yrs/$7 Million deal (2.33MM per)
Walden finally saw the field in Green Bay this past year, playing 883 snaps at left outside linebacker, recording 46 tackles, four sacks and two picks. He's 6'2" 250 and generated 30 pressures while ranking as ProFootballFocus' 6th ranked 3-4 OLB in run defense. He'll be inexpensive and upgrade a weak linebacker corps.
Brandon Gibson isn't a household name, but he's a reliable receiver and adds size and depth to a position of weakness. He's 6'0" 210, and caught 51 passes for 691 yards and 5 TDs in 2012. He's just 25 and should command a team-friendly deal to serve as a solid No. 2 option.
Remaining Cap Money After Signings and the $5.180 necessary for Draft Picks- $3.672MM
Round One- No. 8 Overall- DE/OLB Dion Jordan, Oregon
Dion Jordan is the most intriguing defender in the 2013 NFL Draft. While Cordarrelle Patterson is hard to turn down, the depth at wide receiver is to deep to take him over Jordan. Jordan played defensive end, outside linebacker and even slot cornerback at Oregon. If he falls to No. 8, the Bills will have to avoid tripping on the way to the podium.
Round Two- No. 41 Overall- QB EJ Manuel, Florida State
EJ Manuel has the most upside of any quarterback in the draft, and he fits the mold of the new "prototype" quarterbacks entering the league in recent years. Manuel has a huge arm and makes good decisions with the football. Doug Marrone ran some read-option at Syracuse and Manuel is the perfect candidate to operate the returning K-Gun offense in Buffalo.
Round Three- No. 71 overall- WR Da'Rick Rogers, Tennessee Tech
If it weren't for Da'Rick Rogers' off-the-field issues at Tennessee, he would be regarded as a first round lock. He has the size Buddy Nix described when talking about the :big-time guy who's open when covered" at 6'2" 210 pounds. He rarely drops passes and could eventually emerge as the top WR in the '13 class.
Round Four- TE Jordan Reed, Florida
With Scott Chandler's torn ACL, it's likely he misses significant time during the 2013 season. Regardless if he returns or not, his contract is up at the end of the year. Buddy Nix recently stated that he wanted to add a young playmaker at the tight end position. Jordan Reed isn't an inline blocker, but he's a receiving tight end/ H-Back type that are proving to be successful in the league.
Round Five- CB Brandon McGee, Miami
The Bills need another cornerback, but I don't think the Bills are giving up on Aaron Williams just yet. Let him play one season in Pettine's D, where he'll have the opportunity to be more physical at the line of scrimmage, instead of playing the off-man. McGee wasn't really used at Miami, but has great size and physicality that will bring depth and skill to the position.
Round Six- LB/S Kenny Tate, Maryland
Mike Pettine stated that the Bills would be utilizing nickel as their base formation. Maryland's Kenny Tate was used as a "bandit" a term for a nickel linebacker a la Bryan Scott. He's 6'3" 220 and can stop the run as well as he covers the pass. He's an intriguing late round pick and if Pettine can get him on the field, Tate will make plays.