Tennessee has franchised Albert Haynesworth. The Packers followed suit this evening, tagging Corey Williams. With the Buffalo Bills searching for help at defensive tackle - and with the two "big names" off of the market - where can the Bills turn to find a run-stuffing complement to their current DT corps? There are a few avenues to explore - so I'll lay them out on the line, and y'all can decide what the best route to take is. Here we go:
1. Stick to Free Agency: Even with Haynesworth and Williams off the market, there are still some intriguing names to ponder. Titan Randy Starks is the most commonly referenced name, and even though he's drawn the ire of some Titan fans, he's still young and in the right environment could excel. There are also some intriguing veteran names (Atlanta's Rod Coleman, Seattle's Chuck Darby, and New Orleans' Brian Young are examples) that could give the Bills time to develop their own run-stuffer. Nothing exciting here, but the Bills rarely provide "excitement" via free agency. Feel free to offer additional free agent names if you've done research on the subject.
2. Explore the Trade Route: I know there is a contingent of readers here who would love to see the Bills make a splash via trade, and apparently, Lions DT Shaun Rogers is still available. Rogers' inconsistent play has made him a trade option, but Lions coach Rod Marinelli says he won't be released. Rogers has some issues to overcome (most notably his weight), but some of his most dominant days came under Dick Jauron, when he was the defensive coordinator/interim head coach of Detroit. There are Rogers/Jauron ties, and with the thinning of the free agent market - coupled with a top-heavy draft class - taking a waiver on an elite talent like Rogers might not be a bad idea, even if it costs a Day One draft pick to get it done.
3. The Draft, of course! Much is expected to change, what with free agency looming and the Combine starting tomorrow, but as it stands right now, the Bills will likely miss out on an opportunity to draft the top two tackle prospects this year, LSU's Glenn Dorsey and USC's Sedrick Ellis. One name to keep an eye on is Kentwan Balmer of North Carolina - he's coming off of a stellar senior season after being a career underachiever in college, and if he gets a good character grade at the Combine, he could be set to cash in on the weakness of this year's free agent tackles. His skills fit well into a Cover-2 defense, and he's even being projected by many current mock drafts as a target of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Prospects such as Pat Sims, Marcus Harrison, Dre Moore and DeMario Pressley are second or third round prospects that could excel in a situational role right out of the gate.
Is it possible that the Bills, given the changing landscape that is available defensive tackles, go with the status quo at the position? Not likely, given the Bills' porous run defense. Dick Jauron and the restructured front office seem very likely to add a one-gap player to be on the field for first and second downs; this is the type of player that the team has been missing for two years since the switch to the Cover-2 was made, and finding that player would round out, at least skill wise, the current DT corps. Chances are sky high that the Bills will have a new DT (or two) by the end of April - we just don't know how. That's where you come in, fellow prognosticators - how would you address this position?