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Could the Buffalo Bills trade for Denver Broncos safety T.J. Ward?

The Bills don’t have very experienced depth at safety.

NFL: Denver Broncos-OTA Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Bills have jettisoned safety Bacarri Rambo, who had been signed to a minimal one-year deal. The Bills retained Trae Elston, Adrian McDonald, Jordan Poyer, Colt Anderson, B.T. Sanders, Micah Hyde, Joe Powell, and Shamiel Gary for now at the safety position.

Poyer and Hyde are locks to make the team and the Bills will keep between two to four more at the safety position. More cuts will be made at the position but the Bills could also make some additions. One name to consider is T.J. Ward of the Denver Broncos. John Elway is reportedly calling other teams and shopping the 30-year old Ward. He comes with a Super Bowl ring and a $5.75 million cap hit. The Bills certainly have the draft capital to make a deal happen. As the Broncos could release him if they don’t get a deal, Buffalo could also wait to try to sign Ward if he is cut in a cap saving move.

Ward would slot in between Hyde and Powell in terms of weight. He is known as a good hitter and has been part of a very good secondary, which was in turn part of a very good defense. He is a player with the range to play near the line and also in coverage. While he has had a Jerry Hughes moment (extinguishing any hope of a comeback in a game against New England), Ward is generally a heady player who doesn’t draw a lot of flags.

Ward has said that he would like to continue playing in Denver. If he is traded to a team that he might not otherwise choose to be a part of, he could simply refuse to do any sort of extension. He would then play out 2017 and be a free agent in 2018. The Bills would then effectively be renting Ward for 2017, which would be reflected in any draft pick compensation. Swinging a trade, however, would ensure the Bills had Ward for less than he would likely be able to earn if the Bills had to bid for his services following his release by Denver. The twelve highest paid safety contracts in the NFL average between $7 million and $13 million per year.

Buffalo could trade for Ward with the intention of signing him to an extension, regardless of how Ward felt about a late pre-season trade. McDermott would have a year to get Ward to buy in and see the potential the Bills have, even with one less pick lost in the trade. Working against the effort would be Ward’s age. He is 30 now and would be 31 when the Bills drafted and possibly started a rookie quarterback. Ward, who has seen some shabby QB play in his time in Denver, would know that he would be 32 or possibly 33 by the time any 2018 rookie QB was experienced enough to guide the Bills into contention.

If general manager Brandon Beane is writing off 2017 then there is no reason to sign Ward. The money that would be needed to keep Ward through his current deal could instead be rolled over into 2018. The draft pick needed to acquire Ward could be saved for the next draft. However, if Beane wants the Bills to be competitive in 2018, then there is reason to believe the Bills might have an interest in TJ Ward.