On one hand, I kind of feel bad for Alex Marvez of FOXSports.com. That's assuming, of course, that the astute Marvez was asked by his editors at FOX to name winners and losers after three days of NFL free agency, rather than coming up with the idea on his own. One might argue that free agency on the whole is irrelevant; I would not agree. Teams can take major strides forward during free agency; there's little debate there. Now, handing out praise and/or criticism after three days? That's another matter entirely.
At any rate, Marvez, whether he really wanted to write that article or not, named Buffalo Bills head coach Chan Gailey as one of the NFL's biggest losers after three days of free agency. Gailey makes the list alongside the New York Jets, the New York Giants, and free agent safety Darren Sharper.
Whether or not you even care about Marvez's opinions, this is interesting to discuss simply because of the current state of the morale of Bills fans. Today is Day 4 of free agency, and the team has hosted just two free agents: guard Wade Smith (who left without a deal) and tackle Cornell Green. Patience is wearing thin in some sections of the fan base, which is to be expected, and debates are becoming more heated. Despite all of that, Marvez's inclusion of Gailey on this (meaningless?) list is, to me, rather curious.
Let's break down Marvez's thoughts on Gailey line by line, shall we?
Your new team is taking the massive undertaking of switching to a 3-4 defense with 4-3 personnel while also needing to upgrade the offensive line and wide receiver corps.
Correct. With you so far.
So what did Buffalo accomplish in the first three days of free agency? Bupkis.
Also with you, sir. Bupkis is and always will be the equivalent of bupkis. But if I may interject for one moment, that bupkis hasn't been particularly detrimental to the team's plans.
In terms of 3-4 personnel - yes, the Bills need as much of it as they can find. Do you know how many 3-4 defenders have switched teams to this point in free agency? Three. One note: I'm not counting defensive backs here, because while some corners and safeties thrive better with a 3-4 front seven in front of them, the level of specialization between 3-4 and 4-3 defensive backs is much, much less discernible than the difference between 3-4 front seven defenders and 4-3 front seven defenders. That's where the critical differences between the two systems lie.
So, back to the point: three 3-4 defenders have switched teams. Karlos Dansby was snatched up by the Miami Dolphins. Scott Fujita, coming from a 4-3 in New Orleans, will now play linebacker for the 3-4 Cleveland Browns. Justin Bannan, who has established himself as a fairly solid defensive lineman in Baltimore, will continue his career in the 3-4 look of the Denver Broncos. In a thin free agent class, two 3-4 defenders have moved, and the Browns are fitting one in from a 4-3.
I'd hardly freak out about that.
Marvez also mentions the offensive line as a need area. Three (keep your eye out for a theme here) offensive linemen have switched teams to this point. Tony Pashos is off to Cleveland. Artis Hicks - a man I, admittedly, had hoped Buffalo would pursue - is now playing for the Washington Redskins. The famous Andy Alleman was snapped up by Bill Polian and the Indianapolis Colts.
I'd hardly freak out about those moves, too.
Receiver? Sure, Anquan Boldin was a pretty good acquisition on the part of the Baltimore Ravens. Nate Burleson was slightly overpaid by the Detroit Lions. Kassim Osgood, he of 33 career receptions and a rather loud Twitter feed, has become the next project receiver of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Yes. Three (told you! theme!) receivers have switched teams thus far.
One last time: I'd hardly freak out, Mr. Marvez, that the Bills have missed out on nine players at three fairly critical positional groups. I'm quite certain Chan Gailey isn't. But for the sake of due diligence, let's plow on.
The only player to take a visit -- journeyman offensive lineman Wade Smith – left to meet with Houston without signing a contract.
Indeed he did. The hearts of Bills fans nationwide were shattered. Yes, Smith will have value wherever he lands because of his experience and his versatility. He'd have been a nice depth signing; actually, you know what? He hasn't signed anywhere yet. Change that "have been" to "be." Either way, we were saying the same thing about Seth McKinney a year ago.
(I'm beginning to wonder if poor Coach Gailey would have made this list had Smith not gotten out of town. I'm also beginning to wonder if Marvez realizes Gailey actually has input on who the team signs.)
No wonder Mike Shanahan and Bill Cowher didn’t want the Bills head coaching job that Gailey eventually accepted.
Oh. Oh, right. There it is. That's why Gailey made the list. It had absolutely nothing to do with the first three days of free agency. I gotcha. Maybe I should have read the whole blurb before writing this article.
Forget everything I just said, folks.