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Q&A mailbag: Buffalo Bills should not tank for 2019 NFL Draft position

We tackle the RB spot, 2019 draft positioning, the WR corps, and more in this week’s podcast mailbag.

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Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

It’s that time of the week again where we field questions from fans of the Buffalo Bills. In this week’s mailbag, we tackle the subject of tanking. Should the Bills lose to garner a higher selection in the 2019 NFL Draft?

Other topics in this week’s podcast include the future of LeSean McCoy entering the 2019 offseason, the rest of the stable of running backs, the wide receiver position heading into the offseason, and much more!

If you want to ask a question for a future episode, we would prefer you call our voicemail box at (716) 508-0405. You can send us a question on Twitter to @RumblingsQandA or we will also be around in the comments section to chime in here on the site.

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The Buffalo Bills should not worry one split second about losing their positioning in the 2019 NFL Draft by playing too well down the stretch in 2018. Folks have discussed over and over again how Buffalo has a ton of cap space, and that’s true, but that doesn’t matter if you can’t convince players to come play for you.

What other teams are at the top of the salary cap space list? The Cleveland Browns and Baker Mayfield with a brand new head coach might be enticing to a free agent. Ditto the New York Jets and Sam Darnold. The team I’m most worried about also has the most cap space; Frank Reich’s Indianapolis Colts with established quarterback Andrew Luck, a stout offensive line, and boatloads of money to improve. (Luckily for Buffalo, T.Y. Holton and Eric Ebron are both under contract and they’ve invested heavily in their offensive line, so they won’t be competing with Buffalo for their biggest free agent needs on offense.)

If the Bills are looking to entice free agents with an up and coming roster, they need to be up and coming and not sinking like a stone to end 2018. It’s not about momentum - that’s a fallacy - it’s about proving to a potential free agent that this time is rising and you won’t just get money, you’ll get a chance to play for a contender in the next few years. Showing off Josh Allen and Brian Daboll along with your supposedly-stout defense is a great way to do that.

At the same time, if you look at the 2019 NFL Draft, most of the top prospects aren’t at positions of need for Buffalo. Edge rushers, defensive tackles, and linebackers dot the top five picks. It’s only in the later part of the top 10 into the teens where you get into prospects that could help the Bills at cornerback, offensive tackle, and eventually wide receiver.

If the trade off for moving down a few spots in the draft and still being able to select a player at a position of need is the ability to sell free agents on signing, isn’t that worth it? Isn’t teaching Allen and the rest of the young players on the team how to win worth it? Isn’t changing the mindset worth it?

I think so.

The 2019 offseason is going to be a huge change for the offensive personnel. I wanted to share the outlook for running back and wide receiver as it stands today. You’ll have to listen to the podcast for my thoughts on what they’re going to do, but here are the numbers.

Running back

LeSean McCoy
Cap hit: $9.05 million
Cap savings if released: $6.425 million

Chris Ivory
Cap hit: $3 million
Cap savings if released: $2.25 million before roster bonus, $1.75 million after

Marcus Murphy
Cap hit: $720,000
Cap savings if released: $720,000

Taiwan Jones
Free Agent

Wide Receiver

Andre Holmes
Cap hit: $2 million
Cap savings if released: $1.45 million before roster bonus, $1.3 million after

Zay Jones
Cap hit: $1.849 million
Cap savings if released: $1.081 million

Ray-Ray McCloud
Cap hit: $610,000
Cap savings if released: $570,000

Isaiah McKenzie
Exclusive Rights Free Agent

Robert Foster
Exclusive Rights Free Agent

Deonte Thompson
Unrestricted Free Agent

Kelvin Benjamin
Unrestricted Free Agent