An aggressive start to free agency for the Buffalo Bills was followed by what most considered to be a successful draft. This doesn’t mean the roster is settled by any means however. The Bills will undoubtedly continue making subtle tweaks in the quest for a Super Bowl victory. Where might they turn to via free agency to strengthen the team?
Note: All players currently listed as free agents per Spotrac.com. As always, let us know in the comments how you see things shaking out.
Brandon Beane wasn’t shy about the team’s interest in Ziggy Ansah. Add to that the fact that the team didn’t pick up Shaq Lawson’s fifth-year option and it seems the Bills are in the market for a pass rusher. Ansah represented the biggest name still on the market. This shouldn’t prohibit the Bills from signing a player or two. Last year’s team saw brief appearances from players such as Owamagbe Odighizuwa in an effort to boost competition and find a diamond in the rough.
If Buffalo attempts to do the same this year, there are a few players who have seen some success in the past that could become reclamation efforts. In his two best years, Nick Perry had eleven and seven sacks. Officially a linebacker, Perry is sized similarly to Hughes. Andre Branch and Jamie Collins have never broken the six-sack barrier but could fill a similar role.
The Bills could also try to find a younger player with the hope that a change of scenery will unlock their potential (aka “the Jerry Hughes maneuver”). Shane Ray had an eight-sack season in 2016 and might be a good candidate at age 26. A player like Jihad Ward (age 25) could pop up on their radar if they’re looking for a little different spin on the position. At 290 lbs, Ward would give a bit more heft to the edge.
Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer are entrenched as the starting duo (for good reason). With the amount of sub-packages that use extra defensive backs, the Bills wouldn’t mind an excellent third safety on the roster. And that’s on top of injury insurance. Rafael Bush played 452 snaps last year on defense. While he played well overall, he also just turned 32 on Mother’s Day this year (Happy Birthday Rafael!) and could be an area where they look to add youth.
There aren’t too many younger players at safety on the free-agent market. Though recently retired, Andre Hal (age 27) had some success with Houston. Tre Boston’s five-interception season with the Los Angeles Chargers in 2017 might be an enticing reason to take a look at the 26-year-old safety. Tyvis Powell or T.J. Green would fit the youth concept and might be worth a flier.
If talent is more important than age, Eric Berry—and his three-time All-Pro credentials—is an intriguing option. Berry hasn’t significantly contributed since 2016 and would be a bit of a risk. Technically Kam Chancellor hasn’t retired yet after being cut by the Seattle Seahawks for a failed physical. Missing 2018 and all but retiring due to a neck injury means he should likely start enjoying life after football.
Despite adding John Brown and Cole Beasley already, it was expected the Bills would use a draft pick to secure another weapon for Josh Allen in the form of a wide receiver. As such, Buffalo was tied more to players who could win jump balls and/or stretch the field. With the Bills ignoring the position in the draft, this remains a potential need.
The best match is arguably Martavis Bryant. Suspended for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, Bryant is expected to apply for reinstatement, but his suspension is clearly a barrier at the moment. Aside from Bryant, there are few options that should be expected to alter the makeup of the position group. Dez Bryant didn’t play last year and is polarizing at best (and that’s only talking about his talent). Michael Floyd, Doug Baldwin (retired) and Pierre Garcon are all out there. Arguably any of the three could be worth a shot.