Call this one a pipe dream if you will - and an excellent DE analysis by jri111 may render this opinion just that. But a popular opinion at this blog is that the Buffalo Bills' most pressing need defensively - the one place where an upgrade would have the most uplifting effect for the entire unit - is at defensive end. Even though the Bills have handed out lucrative deals to the likes of Aaron Schobel, Chris Kelsay and Ryan Denney, the team was still unable to generate a consistent pass rush last season. That's why defensive end rated so highly (#3) on our community needs list.
The near-consensus top defensive end on the market this year is Tennessee's Antwan Odom, who enjoyed a break-out 2007 season in which he totaled 27 tackles and 8 sacks in a rotational role with teammate (and fellow free agent) Travis LaBoy. Even though Odom has already stated that he'll give the Titans the first chance to sign him before free agency begins, it's a near certainty that the money Odom can make will be much more than he can make as a Titan. He is a player that seems to be developing into an upper-echelon player, and his pass rush skills would do wonders for a Bills DE corps that desperately needs some youth and speed.
Music City Miracles' Take
Once again, Jimmy - head honcho of the Titans blog Music City Miracles - has provided his first-hand knowledge of a Titan player. He was kind enough to answer three questions of mine about Odom, and his answers were very intriguing...
Odom had a break-out year in '07 on a pretty good Titans D-Line. With other free agent linemen to consider, will finding enough money for Odom be a problem, or is he ready to walk?
Finding enough money for Odom will not be the problem. The Titans have plenty of cap money to spend. The only reason that Odom won't be back with the Titans is if someone offers him a truckload of money. Titans' GM Mike Renfeldt proved last off-season that he will not overpay for free agents, even on his own guys.
The reason the Titans wouldn't want to give Odom big money is because of his durability issues. He missed pretty much all of '06 with a knee injury, and while he hasn't missed much more time because of injury, he has proven that he is only effective when you have a guy that he can platoon with like the Titans had this season in Travis LaBoy.
What is Odom's best style of play - is he more of a speed rusher, or is he a more physical end that excels against the run?
He isn't terrible against the run, but his strength is the speed rush.
What exactly was Odom's role in the line rotation? Did he start on a regular basis, or was he rotated in from the sideline?
He started pretty much every game, but he and Travis LaBoy rotated in and out a lot. As I said above, the only way for Odom to be effective is part of a platoon.
I know what many of you are going to say (and have said plenty of times already) - the Bills won't spend money on a player like Odom due to the facts that they like their current top three defensive ends, and they simply shouldn't tie up more money into their most expensive position on the team. I have a slightly different opinion, and again, it's one that has been voiced at this blog before: if the Bills have wads of money that they can spend on one or two significant upgrades, why not do it at the position with the highest impact? That position, in my opinion, is defensive end - an impact speed rusher would do wonders not only for the other ends on the roster, but for the back seven as well. That's the missing element that this Bills defense needs more than any other.
Let's hear it about Odom, folks. What do you think of him as a player? What do you think his chances are of hitting the open market? How slim are his chances of being a Bill? Odom ranks as the top free agent available on my personal list, so I'd love to hear what y'all think of him.