The Buffalo Bills have been busy. After a slow first couple of hours into the NFL’s legal tampering period, Buffalo exploded with eight personnel moves in the last 48 hours as of the time of this writing. Which move are the best combination of field value and financial value? I have a few thoughts...
8. Signing LB A.J. Klein to a three-year, $18 million contract
Obtaining a third linebacker in three-LB sets was important to this team. I’m surprised they went with a limited player on this sized deal. Klein isn’t known for his coverage abilities and Kyle Fackrell went to the New York Giants on a one-year deal worth $4.6 million. Klein’s abilities on special teams will absolutely help upgrade the unit from Julian Stanford.
7. Signing RB Taiwan Jones to a one-year deal
Senorise Perry, Julian Stanford and Maurice Alexander are getting upgraded. Jones fills the Perry role better than Perry did, but will have basically zero impact on offense. The Bills found their second special teams gunner along with Robert Foster, and Jones is a good one.
6. Signing LB Tyler Matakevich to a two-year, $9 million contract
This is a bigger contract than you’d probably consider good value for a player who won’t likely contribute on defense. However, the Bills are definitely upgrading Perry, Stanford, and Alexander with Klein, Matakevich and Jones.
5. Signing DT Vernon Butler to a two-year, $15 million contract
Butler is likely the biggest boom-or-bust free-agent signing for the Bills thus far in 2020. Breaking out in 2019 was fortuitous to his value, but was it because he played in a Carolina Panthers defense that gave him 3-4 looks or was he going to break out regardless? Butler could out-produce Jordan Phillips in 2020 and look like a bargain or he could show that he should have stuck at a five-technique DE in a 3-4 scheme.
4. Signing Mario Addison to a three-year, $30.45 million contract
Addison has been more productive as a pass rusher than Shaq Lawson and brings stability and familiarity to the side of the defensive line opposite Jerry Hughes. The age factor and the size of the deal are the only things stopping this from being higher on the list. If Addison can keep up his consistently productive ways long enough for a young pass rusher to develop behind him, the loss of Shaq Lawson will be sufficiently mitigated.
3. Signing Jordan Poyer to a two-year, $19.5 million extension
An absolute steal for one of the key components to this defense. Not too long of a deal that the Bills might suffer an aging vet who has declined, but one of the most important pieces to ensuring the Bills’ defensive success carries over year to year. Don’t count out the locker room part of this extension; after Phillips and Lawson left, the Poyer extension and the Spain contract go a long way towards showing the players you can outplay your deal and get paid in Buffalo.
2. Signing Quinton Jefferson to a two-year, $13.5m contract
I thought Jefferson would get a bigger contract than Addison and Butler, so this is tremendous value in my opinion for an extremely versatile defensive lineman. Seattle Seahawks fans were hoping Jefferson would remain a secret and quietly come back. I don’t have to know exactly what the Bills plan to do with him in order to love this signing. Jefferson had more total QB pressures than Jordan Phillips despite playing less snaps (per PFF).
1. Trading a 2020 first-round pick, 2020 fifth-round pick, 2020 sixth-round pick, and 2021 fourth-round pick to Minnesota Vikings for WR Stefon Diggs and a 2020 seventh-round pick
It couldn’t be anything else. The Bills needed another playmaking receiver this year, the free-agent class was barren and the draft is deep but a player acquired via that method may need development time that the Bills don’t have. The team has isolated the variable, as my co-host Nick wrote in his opinion column. Buffalo has given Josh Allen everything he needs to take the step forward and claim the mantle as the franchise quarterback Bills Mafia has awaited since the departure of Jim Kelly. There can be no other #1 due to the potential organizational significance of this move. Diggs fits what Allen needs in a separation receiver while still being a tremendous playmaker at the catch point for contested balls. The price is notable, but if Josh Allen becomes “the guy,” it will be in part due to this move. If that happens, very few prices are too high.
...and that’s the way the cookie crumbles. I’m Bruce Nolan with Buffalo Rumblings. You can find me on Twitter @BruceExclusive and look for episodes of “The Nick & Nolan Show” every week on the Buffalo Rumblings podcast network!