NFL Free Agency has been an eventful one at One Bills Drive.
Buffalo and the rest of the league did their due diligence to improve cap situations and talent around their team. With the tampering phase complete, there were signings that were expected, but there were transactions that caught people off guard.
Let’s spot a few winners and some painfully evident losers from this year’s signings.
Doug Whaley - General Manager Doug Whaley did a fine job given the cap situation Buffalo was in. The front office of the Bills somehow persuaded QB Tyrod Taylor and his agent to a restructure of the big contract he was given in 2016 along with parting ways with veteran safety Aaron Williams who has failed to stay healthy the past two years leading to $7 million in cap savings.
Micah Hyde –With the cap savings, Buffalo locked up Micah Hyde to help bolster the thin secondary for the Bills. Buffalo even received praise in ESPN’s Kevin Seifert’s Winners and Losers of Day 1 making the Hyde signing his favorite one of the day.
Hyde can play a versatile role for the Bills. He played both safety and cornerback while also returning punts in Green Bay last year.
Patrick DiMarco – At the start of free agency, Buffalo was the favorite to land Kyle Juszczyk, but San Francisco jumped in and offered a massive four-year, $21 million deal.
As a backup plan, the Bills opted for full back Patrick DiMarco. According to Pro Football Focus, the Bills received a grade of an A with this signing. The site stated DiMarco has been arguably the best blocking fullback over the past two seasons. With Buffalo’s No. 1 rushing attack, DiMarco looks like he will flourish in Rick Dennison’s offense.
Stephon Gilmore- The Patriots aren’t making it any easier for teams in the AFC East this offseason. Why is Gilmore labeled a winner here? He’s getting a tremendous raise to play with the Super Bowl Champions. He signed a five-year $65 million dollar deal.
Stephen Hauschka – This isn’t a complete loser deal, but it’s more of an “I hope it works out” deal. The kicker actually missed six of his 35 extra-point tries and failed on two kicks inside 30 yards. It seemed as if the Bills wanted to improve at extra point kicking, but Hauschka’s extra point percentage was 82% versus Carpenter’s 88% in 2016. According to ESPN’s Bill Barnwell, the Bills earned a D in his free agency deal grades.
Mike Tolbert – LeSean McCoy tended to struggle at times in red zone and short yardage situations which is why I understand this signing. The Bills snagged the powerful back to help out in those situations with a one-year, $1 million contract. The running back can also help on third-down pass blocking situations where he allowed just one hurry all last season. But PFF didn’t provide a great grade with this transaction by giving it a C. According to PFF, Tolbert earned negative grades in all facets of the game last season.
Corey Graham – The Bills made the decision on Friday to release hometown hero Corey Graham. Graham spoke at the end of the 2016 season about how much it meant to him in getting his hometown team back to the playoffs. He is the third Bills defensive starter last season to depart from the team this offseason.
The team saved $4.05 million in 2017 cap space by releasing him.