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Why the Josh Norman signing makes sense from a Buffalo Bills NFL Draft perspective

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What’s the next move for Brandon Beane?

The Buffalo Bills will be making a number of moves in the coming weeks during the free-agency period that will affect who has a spot on the roster for the upcoming 2020 season. These moves can also be used to predict what general manager Brandon Beane and company may do when the 2020 NFL Draft arrives in late April. The first of the dominoes to fall is cornerback Josh Norman inking a one-year, $6 million deal with the Bills. Norman is eligible to sign before the March 18th new league year because he was cut by the Washington Redskins earlier in the offseason.

This is a move that is likely to result in Norman competing with current exclusive-rights free agent (ERFA) Levi Wallace and possibly spells the end for unrestricted free agent (UFA) Kevin Johnson. This move by the Bills sets them up for a competition going into training camp at the corner position opposite of Tre’Davious White. Last offseason, Brandon Beane went on the record to say “[the] draft is by drafting best player available, free agency is all about your needs to help you be able to go into the draft with very few so called ‘needs.’” Beane’s strategy is personified by this Josh Norman move. Without signing Josh Norman, the Bills may have had a perceived “need” at the cornerback position. Whether you believe it was a good move for the organization to make is another story, but Beane is beginning his normal offseason by getting rid of needs and setting himself up to pick the absolute best new faces that are available once the NFL Draft begins.

Here are some other positions the Bills may be looking to fill needs at in free agency in order to draft for best player available:

Wide Receiver

While nobody is expecting the Bills to sign massive deals with pending unrestricted free agents due to the extensions to Dion Dawkins, Tre’Davious White, Matt Milano, and even Jordan Poyer that are on the horizon, the Bills could be taking hard looks at receiver in this free-agent class. A long talked-about narrative throughout the offseason is that the Bills need to add a receiver to get Josh Allen more weapons to work with, and the draft is expected to be historic at the position with Mel Kiper projecting there will be 25-30 taken in the first three rounds. Perhaps Beane will be looking to fill this perceived need so that when the draft comes, they are not put in a situation where they absolutely must pick a receiver in any given spot.

Defensive End

Shaq Lawson still has not re-signed with the Bills as the new league year looms, which may spell the end for him in Buffalo while a new face waits in the wings. The Bills were already a team that was pegged as needing an edge rusher before it became real that Shaq Lawson may be leaving the organization. Now it is glaring. Look for Brandon Beane to close that need up pronto with a strong free-agent class coming up at the position. This is where the Bills may spend the biggest lump sum on a player to ensure that need is filled.