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Few free-agent safeties make sense for Buffalo Bills

At one of the team’s stronger positional groups, few upgrades make sense via the free-agent market

Carolina Panthers v Washington Redskins Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

Rafael Bush is among the higher-paid players slated to be a reserve for the Buffalo Bills in 2019. The 31-year old veteran was a solid role player for Buffalo in 2018, serving both as the team’s third safety, backup slot corner, and “Big Nickel” coverage player throughout the season. After an injury to rookie Taron Johnson, Bush became Buffalo’s top option in the slot, and while he was not fantastic, he certainly held his own.

The Bills may look to upgrade from the veteran reserve, but if they do, it would be a foolish decision. Bush tallied 45 tackles and 1.5 sacks last season, and he was in the top eleven for Buffalo in both total defensive snaps (452; 44.58%) and total special-teams snaps (146; 33.26%). Bush was a valuable member of the team, and his salary-cap number will only be $1.8 million in 2019.

Here are the free agent options available to Buffalo if they decide to go in another direction.

Earl Thomas

Want to let everyone know that the Bills are number one? How about signing a former member of the Legion of Boom to a one-year “prove-it”-style contract. Thomas broke his leg against the Arizona Cardinals in September, and he was having a phenomenal season before the injury. He had 22 tackles, three interceptions, and three pass breakups through four games. Signing Thomas is a pipe dream, but if you’re going to sign a new safety, why not sign the best possible player?

Chris Conte

Another solid safety hitting the open market coming off an injury, the 29-year old former third-round draft choice suffered a torn PCL in his Week 3 game with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Conte totaled 14 tackles before he was injured, but his career averages for his previous years are solid: from 2012-2017, Conte averaged 61 tackles and two interceptions per season. If Conte finds a cool market due to hesitation after his injury, a one-year deal could be just what the doctor ordered in positioning him for a longer-term deal next offseason.

Mike Adams

The big-hitting soon-to-be 38-year old veteran tweeted that the Carolina Panthers intend to go in a different direction next season, meaning that the former Panther is now eligible for speculation as the next new acquisition for the Bills. Adams showed few signs of slowing down last season, notching 75 tackles and three interceptions on the year. Replacing a 31-year old with a 37-year old seems foolish, but if Buffalo thinks Adams would be an upgrade to Bush, he’s at least worth considering. Bills general manager Brandon Beane was still in Carolina’s front office when Adams signed with the Panthers in March of 2017.


Which free agent safety should the Bills pursue to replace Rafael Bush?

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    Earl Thomas
    (65 votes)
  • 6%
    Chris Conte
    (23 votes)
  • 4%
    Mike Adams
    (17 votes)
  • 72%
    None; keep Bush
    (274 votes)
379 votes total Vote Now