The Buffalo Bills have holes in their roster heading into training camp. That is a sentence that should sound familiar to Bills fans. What is a bit different this season, when compared to the last few, is that they have plenty of room in the salary cap to spend money. According to Spotrac, the Bills have exactly $12,331,863 of cap space available to them. So, how could they spend that?
Note: comparable players and contracts were determined using Spotrac’s similarity score.
Gary Barnidge - TE
We’ve all heard Barnidge mentioned in connection with the Bills this offseason and he took a visit with the team. It is clear the team needs more weapons in the passing game, and Barnidge has shown that he can be that. In 2015 he was 4th among tight ends with nine receiving touchdowns. Last season he fell back to normalcy with only two touchdowns. I am one of the many that he believe he could return to something approaching his 2015 output, and would be a valuable addition to the Bills.
Comparable player: Vernon Davis, TE, WAS
Cap hit: $3.33 million/year
Alterraun Verner - DB
On the other side of the ball the secondary is also of need in some help. After losing starting cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore and Nickell Robey-Coleman, as well as literally every safety from last year, the secondary is a huge question mark. The team has done a decent job of bringing in free agents to help out, but Verner could be another one to throw in the mix. He was a Pro Bowler in 2013, but has steadily declined since then. Like Barnidge, Verner is someone to take a chance on and hope he returns to his peak.
Comparable player: Johnson Bademosi, CB, DET
Cap hit: $2.35 million/year
Austin Pasztor - OL
Right Tackle is another position full of questions. I don’t think anyone is extremely excited about Jordan Mills and Michael Ola. Rookie Dion Dawkins may inspire some excitement, but we’ll have to wait and see if he pans out. Pasztor is a proven NFL starter — he started 16 games in 2016 for the Browns. He has also played at LG, RG, and RT throughout his NFL career. That versatility will could prove valuable throughout the season if one of the starters goes down.
Comparable player: Tom Compton, OT, ATL
Cap hit: $1.85 million/year
Jairus Byrd - S
We all know how great The Byrd Man was the first time he was here. He is no longer that player, but he still has been a starter when healthy in his three seasons away from Buffalo. As I mentioned early, the safety position is completely new this season. Signing Byrd would be a much the same as Verner; a low-risk gamble on an experienced player.
Comparable player: Ricardo Allen, S, ATL
Cap hit: $615,000/year
Dorial Green-Beckham - WR
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: the Bills should sign this huge wide receiver. The pros of signing Green-Beckham are he is 6’ 5”, 237 pounds, ran a 4.49 40-yard dash, and is only 24 years old. Now for the bad news: he has been on different teams after each season of his career. His stats are not that bad either, among his 2015 WR draft class he ranks 6th in receptions, 6th in yards, and 7th in TDs. Players behind him are still in the league. It is clear that his issues are more off the field, and they have been since college when he transferred from Missouri to Oklahoma because he was dismissed from the team at Mizzou. He may not be a fit for McDermott’s disciplinarian attitude, but the raw skills are there.
Comparable player: Robby Anderson, WR, NYJ
Cap hit: $543,333/year
Anquan Boldin - WR
Most of these suggestions have been players that were once good, but have disappointed in recent seasons. Anquan Boldin is not that. Last season, at 36 years old, Boldin caught 67 balls for 584 yards and eight touchdowns. This is a product of the difference of the Lions and Bills offenses last season, but he would’ve ranked first, second, and first in those categories in Buffalo. The talent is clearly still there. I think signing Boldin, at the right cost, is a no brainer for a team struggling to find receiving talent.
Comparable player: The comparisons here inaccurate because of Boldin’s age. Spotrac’s most similar player is Mohammed Sanu whose cap hit is $7.9M a year. Boldin hasn’t made that type of money since 2012 when he was 32. For Boldin I simply copied his cap hit from last year.
Cap hit: $2.69 million/year
Even if Buffalo was able to sign all six players, it would leave them with just under a million dollars in cap space for the upcoming season. Most of these players will also likely be available for one-year deals; meaning they won’t jeopardize the cap going forward. I think they all are either a valuable asset or a low-risk gamble. Only time will tell whether the McBeane regime agrees with me.
Update (7/20/17): Spotrac now reports the Bills with $9,223,914 in cap space. However, the NFLPA cap report has the Bills at $14,809,412. If Spotrac is correct then I would need to cut $3.1M from this spending plan. I’d cut Verner and Pasztor in that case. I think their cost-to-impact ratio is the lowest of the bunch. And if the NFLPA is correct, then my plan is still possible and there’s even some more money to work with. I’d lean towards saving it for possible transactions during the season and then roll it over to next year.