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A look ahead at 2019 free agency for the Buffalo Bills

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Who will the Bills retain and who will they pursue?

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Buffalo Bills Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Bills are off this week, so we have some time to take a look at the future of the team. It is common knowledge among Bills fans that the team will have a plentiful bank account to work with this upcoming off season. For this exercise I’ll work off of the information provided at Spotrac.

Bills RFAs & ERFAs

The Bills have only one Restricted Free Agent (RFA) and a handful of Exclusive Rights Free Agents (ERFA). Eddie Yarbrough is the sole RFA. Isiah McKenzie, Reid Ferguson, Robert Foster, and Levi Wallace are the ERFAs. I think it is very likely that Yarbrough and Ferguson get brought back. McKenzie, Foster, and Wallace’s fates will depend on how they perform in the Bills’ remaining six games. The Bills can bring these guys back at the minimum salary level, so it is likely at least a couple of them receive an offer.

Bills UFAs

The Bills have some big names that will be hitting the open market if no deals get done before free agency starts. Kyle Williams, Lorenzo Alexander, Ryan Groy, Kelvin Benjamin, Jordan Mills, and Jordan Phillips are Unrestricted Free Agents (UFA). If Kyle and LorAx still want to play in the NFL I have to believe the Bills would love to get a deal done with them. Neither is as great as they once were, but they incredible leaders and can still make plays. Jordan Phillips sounds like a likely signee as he has played well since coming to Buffalo from the Miami Dolphins. Kelvin Benjamin might as well already be gone with how much he’s appear on the stat sheet in recent weeks. Groy and Mills could either way in my opinion. Groy lost his starting job early this season, but has always been a solid backup that can play any of the interior line positions. Mills has started every game this season for the Bills but hasn’t looked exceptional. He was even replaced for a series in Week 9. If the Bills target a left tackle in the draft or free agency that would likely mean Dion Dawkins would swing back to right tackle and Jordan Mills would, in the least, be limited to back up duties.

Rounding out the Bills’ UFA class are Derek Anderson, Taiwan Jones, Logan Thomas, Jeremiah Sirles, Matt Barkley, Colton Schmidt, and Deonte Thompson. I think Matt Barkley bought himself at least a shot at being brought back as the Bills’ back up QB. Anderson will likely retire or join the coaching staff. Schmidt was only brought back due to injury, so I don’t see him getting signed to any other than a short term deal. Sirles, Jones, Thompson, and Thomas could get small deals, but they won’t impact the Bills’ overall offseason plan.

Options across the league

The Bills will have the third most salary cap available to them this offseason with over $90 million to spend. So, who will be available?

Offense

The Bills obviously need help moving the ball. At wide receiver there are not many great options hitting the market. The biggest name on the market will be Golden Tate. After him there is a collection of players like Donte Moncrief, John Brown, and Quincy Enuwa. All would be great additions, but aren’t game-changers. I personally would love for them to go after Tyrell Williams, an emerging talent on the Los Angeles Chargers. Devin Funchess will also likely be a target thanks to Buffalo’s front office connections in Carolina.

Offense linemen to protect Josh Allen will be another item on Brandon Beane’s shopping list. Unfortunately for him there are not many great, young options. One intriguing option is Daryl Williams, the former starting right tackle for the Carolina Panthers. He started all 16 games for Carolina last season, but was placed on IR after injuring his knee in the season opener. Beane and Williams have a connection, as it was Beane who negotiated the draft-day trade that allowed the Panthers to select Williams and Funchess.

Defense

The Bills defense does not look like it needs much help, but depending on which of their own free agents they retain there could be some open spots. Defensive tackle and cornerback will be the main targets for McDermott and Beane. The big prize at DT will be Sheldon Richardson. The 28-year-old signed a one year, $8M deal with the Minnesota Vikings last offseason and has been worth every penny. He’ll fetch at least as much this offseason. Former Bills Ronald Darby and E.J. Gaines will both be available this offseason, but will both be coming off injuries. Other interesting options include Bryce Callahan, Jason McCourty, Morris Claiborne, Justin Coleman, and Pierre Desir.

With all the current Bills eligible for some form of free agency and plenty of cap room to spend on other free agents, the Bills are set to have a very busy offseason.