The Buffalo Bills weren’t especially big spenders in free agency during the 2017 offseason. Sure, they added safety Micah Hyde on a five-year, $30.5 million contract, but they also let Stephon Gilmore and Robert Woods walk to other teams on $65 million and $34 million deals, respectively. The rest of Buffalo’s veteran signings were mostly role players and depth. Which of these players will have the most impact in the upcoming season?
1. Micah Hyde | S | 5 year, $30.5 million
Of all of Buffalo’s signings, Hyde is far-and-away the most valuable. He immediately walks into a starting safety role on the team, and the team will be counting on him to lead the defensive backfield for the next few years. The Bills would also like to bring him down into the box on nickel looks - but if they want to get creative, they’ll need to rely on the next player on this list.
2. Jordan Poyer | S | 4 year, $13 million
Where Hyde is a hybrid defender who has split his time between cornerback and safety in his career, Poyer fits more neatly into a safety role. He’s started 36 games for the past three seasons with the Cleveland Browns, although a lacerated kidney ended his 2016 season prematurely. While Poyer only has two career interceptions, he had 13 while playing for Oregon State, and the Bills are hoping they’ll see good production on the field this year since their next-most reliable option at safety is special teams ace Colt Anderson.
3. Andre Holmes | WR | 3 year, $5.5 million
Holmes is the most prominent of the veteran receivers signed by Buffalo this year, and heading into training camp he seems most likely to stick as a starter on the outside of the formation. Tyrod Taylor played well with the 6’4”, 196-pound Justin Hunter in the red zone last season, and the hope is that the 6’5”, 208-pound Holmes will deliver more of the same.
4. Patrick DiMarco | FB | 4 year, $8.4 million
One of the few important signings on the offensive ball this season, DiMarco will be asked to hold up continuity in the running game in place of Jerome Felton. He’s considered one of the best blocking fullbacks in the NFL, and he also chips in a handful of receptions each season.
5. Stephen Hauschka | K | 3 year, $8.85 million
The Bills are hoping to move on from the bad taste of Dan Carpenter’s last two seasons. Hauschka, who is 62-of-68 on field goal kicks in his last two seasons, and 7-for-7 on kicks beyond 50 yards, can hopefully deliver some good feelings for Buffalo’s special teams. One stat to be wary of, however: he’s missed ten extra points in the past two seasons.
6. Gerald Hodges | LB | 1 year, $855,000
Hodges was a late-breaking signing for the Bills, and after averaging 60-80 tackles per season over the last three years, he has a chance to break into Buffalo’s linebacking corps. Both Reggie Ragland and Preston Brown are bigger inside linebacker types, meaning Hodges could find a home as a roaming outside linebacker. If he becomes a starter, he might be more valuable than most of the other names on this list.
Here are the other external signings from the Bills during this offseason. Do any of these players deserve to rank in this list?
Mike Tolbert | FB | 1 year, $980,000
Vladimir Ducasse | OL | 3 year, $3.3 million
Corey Brown | WR | 1 year, $690,000
Ryan Davis | DE | 2 year, $2.2 million
Jeremy Butler | WR | 1 year, $625,000
Leonard Johnson | CB | 1 year, $855,000
T.J. Yates | QB | 1 year, $815,000
Shareece Wright | CB | 1 year, $775,000
Rod Streater | WR | 1 year, $775,000