The Buffalo Bills went to work early on the first day of free agency’s “legal tampering” period, reportedly agreeing to terms with running back Frank Gore, cornerback Kevin Johnson, tight end Tyler Kroft, and center Mitch Morse. For a team with plenty of holes, general manager Brandon Beane wasted no time in plugging a few of them.
With plenty of time to add more players via the free-agent market, and plenty of cap space with which to do so, the Bills should continue to add players throughout the coming days and weeks. After the Day 1 buyers’ bonanza dies down, there are often some solid players to be had at comparatively bargain rates.
Which players remain on the open market whom the Bills should be target? The following list is by no means complete, so feel free to continue the discussion in the comments.
WR Tyrell Williams
A near-consensus pick as the top receiver on the open market, the 27-year-old burner fits all the Bills’ needs. He’s fast, he’s big (6’4”), and he can play both outside and in the slot. Williams has been stuck in the shadow of Keenan Allen, his higher-profile teammate, for the duration of his career. However, in the one season Allen missed due to injury, Williams showed himself capable of being a top-end receiver, hauling in 69 passes for 1,059 yards and seven touchdowns. Adding another big red-zone option for quarterback Josh Allen would be a great move for the Bills, and adding one with the speed to take advantage of Allen’s incredible arm strength makes the fit even more perfect.
WR Golden Tate
A tough veteran wideout, Tate’s numbers have never quite matched his athletic profile, as he averages only 11.8 yards per catch over the course of his career. For a player with his speed, it would be assumed that he did more damage in the long game, but he is a feisty possession guy who has the ability to break free and earn tough yardage in the intermediate passing game. Tate split time between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Detroit Lions last season, catching 74 passes for 795 yards and four touchdowns. For comparison, no Buffalo receiver has caught more than 74 passes in a season since Stevie Johnson did so in 2012, and no Buffalo receiver has surpassed 795 receiving yards in a season since Sammy Watkins went over 1,000 in 2015.
OT Daryl Williams
The most-Buffalo offensive lineman is the former right tackle of the Carolina Panthers. A massive 6’5” and 335 lb right tackle, Williams would be an instant upgrade over incumbent starter Jordan Mills. The risk, however, comes with Williams’s health, as he missed all but one game last season due to a knee injury he suffered against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 1. The injury was an aggravation of one he had actually suffered during training camp. He had surgery in September, and while he is expected to be fully healthy, signing a player coming off major surgery is always risky.
OT LaAdrian Waddle
The veteran tackle spent the last three seasons with the New England Patriots, and while he has spent most of his time as a reserve, he has starting experience from earlier in his career. After the Lions signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2013, Waddle made 26 starts for them over two-plus seasons before joining the Patriots. If the Bills fail to sign Williams, Waddle would provide good depth and competition for a rookie, assuming that the team would go that direction instead if they missed out on their top choice.
DE Ezekiel Ansah
While the pass-rush specialist has not performed to the dominant level expected of a top-five draft pick, Ansah has had a solid career in his six seasons with the Detroit Lions. With the Lions reportedly signing Trey Flowers to a massive contract, they will likely part ways with Ansah, who turns 30 in May. He only played in seven games last season, making two starts, due to a lingering shoulder injury he suffered in Week 1. He made only 11 tackles on the season, adding four sacks. During the 2017 season, he notched 12 sacks and 44 tackles in 14 games. Ansah is a beast when healthy, and he would provide a much-needed boost to Buffalo’s pass rush. The price would have to be right, however, as the team already has a ton of money sunk into the position (though they could certainly clear space by releasing Trent Murphy).
DE Markus Golden
Another pass-rush specialist coming off an injury, Golden has played for the Arizona Cardinals since they drafted him in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft. After a huge 2016 season in which he totaled 51 tackles and 12.5 sacks, Golden has been limited by a string of injuries. He tore his ACL in 2017, and was limited to 11 games in 2018. Since his 2016 campaign, he has played in a total of 15 games, amassing 41 tackles and 2.5 sacks. He began his career as an outside rush linebacker in Arizona’s 3-4 front, but his size (6’3” and 260 lbs) is perfect for a 4-3 defensive end. At 28 years old, the Bills could buy low on a player with some upside to fill depth along their defensive line.