The 2014 Buffalo Bills have plenty of cap space to work with, but they have some holes to fill on defense as they move from Mike Pettine's pressure defense to a new attack coordinated by Jim Schwartz. Detroit's former head coach will ask his secondary to take a little more heat, and it could expose holes in parts of the secondary.
Cornerback was a position in flux in 2013. Stephon Gilmore and Ron Brooks suffered preseason injuries, and Leodis McKelvin missed time with an injury, as well. It got so bad that corner-turned safety Aaron Williams turned corner again for several starts, performing admirably despite spending the entire offseason transitioning to safety.
Even though you may want to forget, Justin Rogers started five games last season due to the run of injuries, getting torched by rookie Geno Smith in the process. The only cornerback to play in all 16 games was nickel corner Nickell Robey, a 2013 undrafted free agent who solidified his spot in the rotation by taking advantage of his chance from Brooks' injury.
What the Bills could add
Ideally, the Bills would add a solid veteran to provide depth and stability if last year's injury issues resurface, or if there is general ineffectiveness at the top of the depth chart. Only McKelvin has ascended past a league-minimum or rookie deal contract, meaning that the Bills can afford to give a short-term contract in the neighborhood of McKelvin's $4 million a year deal to a free agent.
Who fits the bill
Corey Graham: Graham made $2.65 million a year ago in Baltimore. He adds value as a special teams contributor, nickel cornerback and a spot starter. He had a nice year with four picks and 75 tackles, and is only 28 years old. Graham and the Ravens have expressed mutual interest in getting a deal done, but the Buffalo-born Graham could give the Bills an edge if Baltimore doesn't step up to the plate.
Jabari Greer: Another homecoming could be in the works in the form of Greer, who left Buffalo as a free agent after the 2008 season. Greer signed with New Orleans, won a Super Bowl in 2009, and then signed a lucrative extension in 2012. He became a cap casualty after spending 2013 injured. At age 32, he can't expect to command the $5 million average he earned on his last contract on the open market, and would be a viable starter in case of injury.
Nolan Carroll: A cheaper option with starting experience, Carroll has the size the Bills should be looking for to play outside at 6'1", 205 pounds. He hopefully wouldn't be asked to start in Buffalo, but could fill that top reserve role well.
Tarell Brown: Brown gained infamy last offseason for missing out on a $2 million bonus because his agent forgot to tell him to go to offseason workouts. He's 29 years old and coming off his third straight year starting for San Francisco, which will likely get him a look at a larger contract than the Bills will be looking for. Brown is a touch on the shorter side and he's not an interception machine, but he is a solid contributor. If you are looking for a discount, you might be out of luck. If his price falls, he very well may end up back with the 49ers.
Best case scenario
Graham could immediately step into the nickel corner role, supplanting Robey, and be available on the outside if Gilmore or McKelvin stumble. His age is also a big plus. This is the best case scenario, as it upgrades one position and provides depth at another. Brown, Carroll, and Greer wouldn't play in the nickel spot, likely being the top reserve corner on the outside, filling a role that Buffalo hasn't had under Doug Marrone.