One of the biggest stories for the Buffalo Bills in 2010 was the fact that the offense found respectable productivity out of a group of players snagged off of the proverbial scrap heap. A unit littered with former late-round draft picks and undrafted free agents, Buffalo's offense scored points and kept games close (winning a few of them) anyway. A small group of those players, namely the team's no-name wide receivers, adapted the nickname "The Goon Squad."
In 2011, three of the more prominent members of that no-name offense will be playing out the final year of their respective contracts - and if things go well, each could be in for a big pay day.
It starts, of course, with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, and I've already made it clear that I believe the Bills should re-sign their starter sooner rather than later. The team's most marketable player, Stevie Johnson, enters the final year of his deal coming off of a break-out season in which he became the first Bills receiver to record 10 touchdowns in a season since Eric Moulds in 2002. The team's starting left tackle, Demetrius Bell, could also earn a long-term deal with more consistent play and another healthy, 16-game season.
All three of those players, by the way, were seventh-round picks once upon a time. All three have the opportunity to emerge as franchise cornerstones next season.