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What will the Buffalo Bills look like in five years?

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The Bills are at a crossroads right now. How will it turn out?

It’s safe to say that the past week has been one of the more eventful weeks of the Buffalo Bills’ recent history. The team went through a draft where they traded nearly every pick and came away with a few potential starters as well as an extra first in 2018. They followed that up by firing their general manager and almost all of the scouting staff.

So...yeah. A few ups, a few downs.

So how will it all turn out? Let’s have a look at some possible scenarios the team will be facing five years down the road.

Sean McDermott is still the head coach.

The firing of Doug Whaley seems to have cemented McDermott’s place at the head of the table when it comes to the Bills’ organization. Sure, Terry Pegula seems to be something of a hands-on owner, but in his press conference yesterday he broke out one of McDermott’s favorite buzz words - “process” - seven times. At the very least, he’s subconsciously picking up McDermott’s cues.

With that in mind, and given McDermott’s reputation and history as a coach, I have a hard time believing he’s going to bomb out so bad that the Pegulas can him before his contract is up. I’d love to hear any arguments to the contrary that don’t rely on the theme of “because it’s the Bills.”

Marcell Dareus is no longer on the team.

Dareus has five years remaining on the six-year, $96.5 million contract extension he signed right before the 2015 season kicked off. The Bills can feasibly release or trade him as early as 2019, which is the point where his cap hit exceeds his dead cap figure.

McDermott is a coach who preaches the value of character when it comes to his players. Dareus has been arrested twice in his time with the Bills, and missed the first four games of last season due to a violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy. He’s a supremely talented player on the field, but I don’t see McDermott being all that interested in putting up with him if that act continues.

Nathan Peterman is the starting quarterback

Peterman was a fifth-round selection by the Bills in this past draft. Usually, those players don’t turn into much of anything, but Peterman could be different.

The quarterback Peterman seems to be compared to most often is Kirk Cousins, another former Day 3 pick who sat for a couple seasons before playing his way to a Pro Bowl nod and a couple rounds of the franchise tag in Washington. The biggest knock on Peterman - his arm strength - is probably the easiest thing to improve for an NFL quarterback. If he can do that, there’s no reason to think he won’t be able to take over the starting job once Tyrod Taylor moves on.

Zay Jones will be in the top five in the NFL in receptions

I’ll admit, I’m partial to Jones. I liked him even before the Bills drafted him, and I was ecstatic that they traded up to make sure they landed him.

Jones is incredibly sure-handed; of 164 catchable passes thrown his way last year, he dropped six. If his quarterback can put the ball anywhere near him, he’ll come down with it. I have a feeling Peterman will be able to put it near him, since he excels in short-yardage accuracy and Jones’ route tree is largely based around the shorter routes.

Whether he’ll be able to do a whole lot with the ball once it’s in his hands remains to be seen, but it will definitely get there.

The Bills will have made the playoffs. Twice.

No more, no less.

I don’t see it happening this year, as I pointed out when I broke down the schedule. Next year might be a stretch, especially if they decide to roll with Peterman a year early. Year three, though, will be the breakthrough. The Bills will have a decent team in place, McDermott’s brand will have completely permeated to organization, and the Bills will finally return to the playoffs. I’d like to think they can do it for the next two seasons as well, but I’m not going to push my luck. They’ll make two out of three.

Poll

Which of these situations is the most likely to pan out?

This poll is closed

  • 30%
    Sean McDermott stays
    (1354 votes)
  • 36%
    Marcell Dareus leaves
    (1600 votes)
  • 8%
    Nathan Peterman starts
    (363 votes)
  • 16%
    Zay Jones catches a lot of passes
    (744 votes)
  • 7%
    The Bills make the playoffs (twice)
    (324 votes)
4385 votes total Vote Now