The Buffalo Bills don’t have an immediacy mindset when it comes to roster building. General manager Brandon Beane has often looked one to two to three years down the road when building his roster and structuring his contracts.
While Matt Milano, cornerback, right tackle, and several other positions have immediate needs, what other players on Buffalo’s roster could the Bills extend this offseason like they did with Tre’Davious White, Dion Dawkins, and Jordan Poyer last offseason?
Deals I would do
QB Josh Allen
At a minimum, the Bills are going to pick up Allen’s fifth-year option for the 2022 season. Reports came out during the playoffs that the team is going to approach him with a massive contract extension this offseason. I am probably more in the wait-and-see camp than most, but with the COVID-related problems with the salary cap and the other deals I want to do, I’m waiting on the long-term deal until at least the preseason if not the 2022 offseason.
DE Jerry Hughes
Hughes just keeps playing well and making great decisions. Instead of letting him play out 2021 and be a free agent in 2022, I’d consider signing him to an extension even if he’s going to turn 33 this offseason and be 34 when the extension kicks in. Another two-year extension for Hughes including a small to medium signing bonus would keep his dead-cap hits low if and when he retires or the Bills want to release him. The Bills just signed a 32-year-old Mario Addison to a three-year deal for $10+ million per year, so they’ve shown they’re willing to go to age 35 on DEs.
FS Micah Hyde
Hyde continues to be a leader on the back end of the defense but he did just turn 30. I think you’re going to get a few more good years out of him, so an extension similar to Jordan Poyer’s deal would be alright. Poyer signed a two-year, $19.5 million contract last offseason, but because of the COVID cap, you might need to structure it a bit differently. Hyde only has one year left on his deal, so either you’re drafting and grooming a replacement now or you need to extend him, but he’s still playing at a high level.
LS Reid Freguson
Ferguson has a year left on his deal, does his job well, is great with the media, and was a special teams captain in 2020. He’s set to make less than $1 million in 2021 and the highest-paid long snappers are at $1.2 million per season. I think we can make it work. Give him the four-year, $4.8 million deal with 2021 fully guaranteed and a $400k signing bonus and call it a day.
Deals that need to wait
CB Taron Johnson
Johnson is an okay player, so if you can get him on an okay contract, I’d sign the extension this offseason. Let’s put it into perspective; he’s a starter on your team who could be better. Nickell Robey-Coleman signed a three-year, $15 million deal a few seasons ago. Nope. Last offseason, he signed for $1.35 million. Yep. But players don’t usually sign extensions for miniscule amounts, they sign those when they test the free-agent market. So he’s a candidate for 2022.
DT Harrison Phillips
I wouldn’t give a contract extension to Harrison Phillips. Any deal you sign him to will be more expensive than replacing him, and I think you can get his production with a draft pick. If he comes back healthy and plays well in 2021, we can deal with that a year from now.
The big question
LB Tremaine Edmunds
The Bills can exercise Edmunds’s fifth-year option this offseason. After making the Pro Bowl on the first ballot this year (he was an alternate in 2020), the option for Edmunds would cost roughly $14 million. That’s a lot of money for a guy making the impact that we’ve seen. Alternatively, they could give him a long-term contract extension in the neighborhood of four years, $58 million ($14.5 million average). I’m not interested in either option, to be honest, and I would let Edmunds test free agency in 2022 or deal with signing him to an extension a year from now. Brandon Beane traded up in the first round to get him, he’s really young so room to grow, and he dealt with an injury this year limiting his effectiveness. All that being said, I think the Bills give him the fifth-year option as a hedge. I hate half-measures, so I would wait.