A week ago, the Buffalo Bills had glaring holes at linebacker, right tackle, cornerback, right guard, punter, kick returner, tight end, and defensive tackle. In the intervening seven days, the majority of those holes have been closed with quality players, but some still remain.
Matt Milano, Daryl Williams, Jon Feliciano, Ike Botteger, Levi Wallace, and Matt Haack have all been retained (and signed in Haack’s case) to handle the linebacker, right tackle, guard, cornerback and punter problems. Star Lotulelei has said he’s going to be returning from the COVID-19 opt-out list this season to secure defensive tackle.
Bills general manager Brandon Beane doesn’t like going into the NFL Draft being forced to take a certain position, so we expect some movement at tight end and kick returner over the next few days in addition to normal roster churn, where he signs a player to compete with another player on the roster.
Dawson Knox is the only player on the active roster with meaningful tight end experience. Reggie Gilliam is more of an H-back, Nate Becker has one game of NFL experience, and Tommy Sweeney remains on the Reserve/COVID-19 list with side effects from the coronavirus.
Buffalo has been linked to Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz, who has been granted permission to seek a trade. We’ll have to wait and see where he ends up. Several tight ends are still on the market including Tyler Eifert and Jesse James.
With Andre Roberts in Houston and Isaiah McKenzie still a free agent, the Bills don’t really have someone capable of returning kicks right now. If McKenzie lingers on the market, he should be back on a team-friendly one-year deal like I projected earlier this offseason.
On the market is Cordarelle Patterson, who is likely to want more of a role at wide receiver than he can find in a crowded Bills room. Also available is WR Alex Erickson and RB Dion Lewis who we profiled earlier this offseason. Lewis makes sense as a kickoff returner and third-string RB, but doesn’t return punts. Erickson hasn’t returned punts in a couple years, either.
Backups at quarterback, offensive tackle, running back, tight end, cornerback, and safety could all be in the mix to be added soon, as well. Those are likely to be of the “steady veteran” variety rather than a splashy or expensive variety, so that could wait another week or two.
I’d really like to see an upgrade at pass rusher, but if they pull the trigger on a defensive end, they won’t have the cap space to do both.
It’s likely at this point that all the Bills’ attention and available cap dollars could be focused on the tight end position.