Here’s my first Rumblings Mailbag. It’s the pre-training camp edition. We’ll try to run one of these every few weeks to make sure your pressing Buffalo Bills questions get answered.
@BuffRumblings What are your feelings on Gilmore? His play and his value?— Pat Washington (@pwash86) July 19, 2016
When should Bills look to re-sign, if at all?
I think Gilmore is a Top 7-10 cornerback whose size and polished skills are accentuated when he plays press man — which Rex must adore. He’s had injury run-ins a few times in his career and is entering the 2016 season after suffering a torn labrum.
He’s been good and occasionally great during his tenure with the Bills. Josh Norman, who’s known to be much more of a “zone corner” than Gilmore, was signed by the Redskins to a five-year, $75 million contract with nearly $36 million fully guaranteed this offseason after the Panthers yanked his franchise tag.
No, playing zone isn’t “easy,” however it’s widely accepted that shadowing a receiver in tight man-to-man coverage is the most difficult responsibility for a defensive back, especially in today’s NFL.
So will Gilmore start negotiations at Norman’s numbers?
Probably. The former first-round pick doesn’t measure up to Norman’s takeaway figures, but he’s a full three years younger.
How do I think the Bills should handle Gilmore’s contract situation?
Let him play out 2016 at his $11 million cap hit then gauge his value to the secondary — and weigh it against other corners, namely Ronald Darby — after the season’s over.
That’ll buy time for Buffalo’s front office to tweak its offer based on its assessment of his play and future importance to the team.
I’ll finish by saying this: I think Gilmore will have to turn in a monster campaign to get an offer north of $15 million per season from the Bills.
@BuffRumblings which underdog player is going to surprise everyone and make the roster— Matthew (@BmoreBillsfan) July 19, 2016
Undrafted free-agent defensive lineman Justin Zimmer has been my pick for a while, and I’m sticking with him. I haven’t seen him take a snap in an NFL practice — and heck, he hasn’t even worn pads yet — so this isn’t a prediction based on any observation, but bear with me.
I got glimpses of his collegiate film, and I was blown away by what he displayed as a run defender and pass-rusher. He’s explosive with a refined, diverse skill set.
I also know he’s a powerful, freak-of-nature — based on one cumulative measure of workout numbers, he might be the most athletic 300-pound prospect in NFL history.
(At 6’2’, 302 pounds, his 7.09 three-cone drill and 4.42 short-shuttle is downright bonkers.)
In pro football, the plus athletes typically succeed.
Coming from the Division II level, there’ll be some growing pains, no doubt, but I believe he’ll have a strong camp and make waves in the preseason, leading to a spot on the regular-season roster as a rotational interior defensive lineman.
@BuffRumblings do you think they add a veteran receiver, I.E. Bolden?— CirclingTheWagons (@billsmafiaEP) July 19, 2016
Simply put -- yes.
Though Buffalo will head into camp with a small army of veteran receivers to audition for the No. 3 wideout spot, expectations should be tempered for most of them.
As MRW mentioned earlier this summer, four of the six pass-catchers vying for that tertiary role did not record a receiving statistic in 2015.
I won’t be surprised at all if, a week or so into camp, or maybe after the opening preseason game, the Bills reach out to Anquan Boldin.
At this point, it’s highly unlikely. While some may disagree or, I guess, disapprove of this, in the NFL today, GMs and coaches simply cannot afford to just cut good players when they make one mistake off-the-field that leads to them missing time on the field.
Williams was a dynamic battering ram as a rookie. However, his reckless abandon running style and concussion history makes for a concerning combination, and the bizarre offseason certainly won’t help his depth-chart standing. In fact, I think Jonathan Williams (or even Mike Gillislee) will be the clear-cut No. 2 when Karlos returns in October.
But right now, on July 24, Buffalo, one of the few genuine ground-and-pound teams in football, is simply not in a position to cut someone as young and talented as Karlos.
Thanks a lot for the questions. Be on the lookout for another mailbag tweet from @BuffRumblings during training camp.