Thanks to the Byrd fiasco my last BROP has a serious problem; Buffalo won't be getting a late first round pick or any other sort of compensation for the loss of a Pro Bowl safety.
End of season review:
Last year's record was still bad, just not as bad as the surrender of the offseason.
Front office and coaching staff
Fantasy: I walk into a meeting of the brain trust at OBD and immediately subordinate everyone to Doug Whaley. He's got the power to fire anyone in the front office as well as the head coach. Marrone, naturally, has the power to fire anyone on the coaching staff. I now have exactly two people to hold accountable for Buffalo's performance going forward. They have all the power they need to make whatever moves they believe necessary to field a winner.
Reality: Nothing will change. Russ Brandon has no reason to structure the front office in such a way as to diminish his own power. Having a GM with control over the roster but other front office types with effective control over the purse strings he can be assured that no one can challenge him for supremacy of the organization. Damn that's depressing.
Buffalo has about $150.8 million to build a roster for 2014. In my first BROP I had linked to a story that pegged Buffalo's roster at around $125 million as it exists. That gives the Bills about $25.8 million in cap space before making some cuts.
Dumping Kolb, Pears and Legursky adds $7 million to Buffalo's $25.8, bringing it up to $32.8 million.
I'm going to reserve $3.8 million for rookies, which should be more than enough and drops the available cap space to about $29 million.
Next, I point out to Whaley that had the Bills extended Byrd at the end of 2012 we'd never have endured the embarrassment of his departure. Whaley has already re-signed Wood and talked about extending Dareus. I sure hope he's on board with cutting ties with the Farm Team mentality that has dominated OBD for more than a decade. Current possible players to re-sign or extend are:
2015: Marcell Dareus, Jerry Hughs, Erik Pears, Fred Jackson, Kevin Kolb, Aaron Williams, Garrison Sanborn, Da'Norris Searcy, Chris Hairston, Lee Smith, Tony Moeaki, Marcus Easley, Kevin Elliott, Thad Lewis, Corbin Bryant
Byrd is gone. Chandler is leaving for a bigger deal than Buffalo can match, Carrington effectively left when he got hurt. Carpenter will cost more to re-sign than Buffalo can afford. Moats is a liability in coverage and not worth much more than a fairly minimal contract. Hogan and Summers have already been tendered. Of the 2015 players Dareus, Aaron Williams,
I want to extend Marcell Dareus before he can get anywhere near free agency. He's unlikely to sign for less than he was making, which was about $6.5 million. I'm eyeballing a contract that pays something like $7.5 million a year for 5 years but I'm going to call it an $8 million average just to be pessimistic--$15 million of that in the form of a signing bonus. That raises Dareus' 2014 cap figure from $6.3 million to $11.3 and drops the cap space to $24 million.
When I did my second BROP I somehow managed to talk about signing Aaron Williams and then not actually do it. Brilliant. I fix that here. Now that he's the starting free safety (Grrrrrrr.....) and proven his ability in a tough set of circumstances, he needs to be paid as such. He's not one of the top 10 at his position but I'd take him over the Patrick Chungs of the world. I'm looking at a 5 year deal averaging $5.2 million per year. His cap was $1.7 million which means that the effective new cost is $3.5 million, dropping the available cap space to $20.5 million. (Yeah, I was going to put $5.5 million average but I'm trying to keep the math simple...)
After cut downs are made I look to sign Jerry Hughs to a two year extension averaging about $4 million a season. Signing it in September protects him from a down year after the departure of Pettine. With $4.5 million of the extension being signing bonus the additional cap hit is $1.5 million in 2014. $19 million left to play with.
Searcy has suddenly become more important to Buffalo and has been making about $1.5 million. In the DB happy NFL I can see extending him, perhaps to the point of $2 million a season per year for 3 years. With $3 million in the form of a signing bonus it's another $1 million against the 2014 cap over his current cap number, dropping the available amount to $18 million.
I try to sign Sanborn, Easley, and Bryant to deals averaging about $1 million a year over 2 or 3 years. With part of each of those deals being signing bonus money it's another million or so added to their combined cap numbers in 2014. $17 million left.
So, what to do with $17 million?
My first thought is that the Bills have lost Byrd with no compensation. Without the extra draft pick the Bills are going to scramble to fill holes. Again. Didn't we just get off this ride last March?
Jimmy Graham? Not happening. There also isn't any other TE in free agency that I see being worth more than about $3 million a year. TE will have to be addressed in the draft.
Geoff Schwartz is someone I'm looking at signing for LG to a 4 year deal worth an average of $5.5 million (12th among NFL guards) which drops the available cap space to $11.5 million.
I'd like to find a ILB in free agency but it isn't going to happen at a reasonable rate. Another draft hole.
I wanted to go after TJ Ward to replace Byrd but the free agency dollars are dwindling too fast and the team still needs a corner. I was targeting Vontae Davis but today brought news that Brandon Browner has been reinstated. He's a big corner who has averaged 3 INTs the last 3 years even though he missed half of 2013 after a BS suspension due to drug tests he missed while he wasn't in the NFL. The contract has to be loaded with protections for the team lest Browner do something to earn a suspension. I look to sign him to a 4 year deal averaging $6 million per season. That drops the cap space to $5.5 million.
There are some high dollar OTs in free agency who Buffalo can't afford. I'm looking at RT Zach Strief. He's 30 and will cost Buffalo more than he should. However, he has been reasonably solid and can man the fort for several years. He's been making about $2 million per year. I sign him to a three year pact averaging $4.5 million per year, going up to $5.5 million per year if necessary.
I had the Bills moving up in the draft to pick up Mack but that was when the Bills got something for Byrd. Without the extra pick and with so many needs the Bills no longer have the juice to move up the board.
9. WR Mike Evans. Because Chandler walked Evans will have to stand in both as a possession receiver and the go-to guy in the red zone. It's a lot to ask of a rookie.
41. ILB Christian Jones or Shayne Skov
73. TE Troy Niklas
100. With the Bills needing to bring in someone to, at a minimum, be the swing reserve OT, the team could take a chance on OT Antonio Richardson's medical issue, OT Billy Turner, OT Seantrel Henderson or OT Michael Schofield depending on who was available. I'll predict Seantrel Henderson.
105. With all of the positions of need addressed in free agency or the draft the Bills can take draft without worrying about need and go with the true BPA.
Post Draft Moves
I don't have any specific UDFAs as I don't know who will get drafted and who will still be available. Buffalo will need to bring in WRs, LBs, OGs and OTs.
In my BROP I have:
- Lost Byrd, Chandler, Carpenter, and Carrington. Hogan, Moats and Summers may or may not have re-signed to minimal deals.
- Extended: Dareus, Hughes, Aaron Williams, Searcy, Easley, Lewis and Bryant.
- Signed free agent guard Geoff Schwartz to start at LG, Brandon Browner to start at CB, and RT Zach Strief
- Drafted WR Mike Evans, ILB Christian Jones or Shayne Skov, TE Troy Niklas and OT Seantrel Henderson