The first week of the NFL’s free-agent frenzy has passed, and the Buffalo Bills have managed to retain a good number of their own key free agents. They’ve also added some new faces to a talented roster in hopes of repeating as AFC East Champions for the first time since the 1991 season.
The team clearly isn’t only focused on winning the division title, however, as they fell just one game short of the Super Bowl last season. After losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game, Buffalo’s goal is clear: Take the next step and win a Super Bowl.
While there will be plenty of roster changes in the coming months, a reset after free agency’s “first wave” is good if only to note where the Bills are strong—and where the team still needs to improve.
Here is Buffalo’s roster as it stands today. Players are listed alphabetically by last name at each position. New signings are marked with an asterisk.
Davis Webb III
One big change here, as the Bills upgraded their insurance policy behind Allen when they signed Trubisky. Matt Barkley was a great boost in the locker room, but Trubisky is a far more talented player and a better replacement for Allen if the starter were to miss any time. Fromm and Webb remain in their respective roles for now.
Running Backs (5)
This room is the same as it was last year, just without veteran T.J. Yeldon, who remains a free agent. Buffalo may not be set here, as a dynamic receiver out of the backfield could further elevate an already potent offense.
Wide Receivers (9)
Buffalo swapped out veteran John Brown for another veteran in Sanders, who lacks Brown’s top-end speed but makes up for it in agility and route running. Sanders is another versatile piece who can win off the line of scrimmage both on the outside and in the slot. Hodgins, who missed his whole rookie season on injured reserve, should compete for a spot on the 53-man roster come September.
Tight Ends (5)
The Bills swapped out Tyler Kroft for Hollister, Josh Allen’s college teammate at Wyoming. They may not be done reshaping this positional group as they look for more consistent production. Sweeney is still on the COVID-19 list until further notice with his heart condition.
Offensive Line (9)
The Bills had two high-priority free agents along the line and they were able to retain both, inking Feliciano and Williams to long-term deals. Add in Ford’s return from injured reserve and the restricted free-agent tender given to Boettger and the Bills will keep the band’s essential components together for at least one more year.
Edge Rushers (6)
Bryan Cox Jr.
Look for the Bills to try for an impact addition here, as they were reportedly in on J.J. Watt before the veteran ultimately signed with the Arizona Cardinals. Addison took a pay cut to stay in Buffalo, but the team is strapped for salary cap space and could save around $4 million by releasing him. Hughes is another high-priced veteran who, while an unlikely cut, could be released if the team finds itself in an untenable position. (For the record, I don’t think either player goes anywhere—just spit-balling here).
Defensive Tackles (6)
While this group might not be set in stone, if the team is able to keep all of the current players, it might be close to it. If the Bills need to release Butler, who also took a pay cut, in order to create more cap space, then look for them to add a player via the draft. Releasing Butler would save a little over $2 million—not enough to make it a likelihood, but enough where a team in need of money might at least consider it.
This is another group that’s pretty close to set. Although, like the defensive tackle group, I expect the team to add some talent through the draft. A.J. Klein’s roster bonus came due this past weekend, so the team would only save around $1 million by releasing him, making that pretty unlikely. A restructure of some sort, though, is possible.
If I were a betting man, I’d find some odds on Bills general manager Brandon Beane drafting a corner at No. 30 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. That’s not to say that it’s Buffalo’s biggest need—I’d argue that edge rusher is the biggest immediate need on the roster—but it might be the position where need and value intersect at the end of the first round.
This group is obviously top heavy, as Hyde and Poyer form one of the league’s elite safety duos. Depth is necessary, however, especially if veteran reserve Dean Marlowe isn’t re-signed.
K Tyler Bass
LS Reid Ferguson
P Matt Haack*
The Bills are all set here.
2021 Buffalo Bills offseason depth chart
|QB||Josh Allen||Mitchell Trubisky*||Jake Fromm/Davis Webb|
|RB1||Zack Moss||Antonio Williams|
|RB2||Devin Singletary||Taiwan Jones||Christian Wade|
|WR1||Stefon Diggs||Gabriel Davis||Duke Williams|
|WR2||Emmanuel Sanders*||Isaiah Hodgins||Jake Kumerow|
|SWR||Cole Beasley||Isaiah McKenzie||Tanner Gentry|
|TE1||Dawson Knox||Nate Becker|
|TE2||Jacob Hollister*||Tommy Sweeney+||Reggie Gilliam|
|LT||Dion Dawkins||Ryan Bates|
|LG||Cody Ford||Ike Boettger|
|RG||Jon Feliciano||Jordan Devey|
|RT||Daryl Williams||Trey Adams|
|LE||Mario Addison||A.J. Epenesa||Mike Love|
|NT||Star Lotulelei||Vernon Butler||Harrison Phillips|
|DT||Ed Oliver||Justin Zimmer||Brandin Bryant|
|RE||Jerry Hughes||Darryl Johnson||Bryan Cox Jr.|
|SLB||A.J. Klein||Tyler Matakevich|
|MLB||Tremaine Edmunds||Tyrel Dodson|
|WLB||Matt Milano||Andre Smith|
|CB||Tre'Davious White||Cam Lewis|
|FS||Jordan Poyer||Jaquan Johnson|
|SS||Micah Hyde||Josh Thomas|
|NB||Taron Johnson||Siran Neal|
|CB||Levi Wallace||Dane Jackson|