Although so much of NFL free agency revolves around the flashy headliners, (J.J. Watt, anyone?) sometimes a team can be successful in the offseason by simply taking care of business. If you can keep your productive players on the roster and bring in a couple of reinforcements at key positions, then you’re definitely not hurting your team’s composition. It helps when the moves are affordable! These moves could pay dividends in the team’s 2021 quest for a Super Bowl, or further down the line when they want to build up the roster of the future. What was your favorite transaction made by the Buffalo Bills this offseason? Here’s our list of the best!
Re-signing LB Matt Milano
Re-signing their valued players was the theme of this year’s spending, and far and away the most crucial target was linebacker Matt Milano. Their defensive attack dog has been a major playmaker for four years since emerging from the fifth round of the draft. In that stretch he has 30 TFLs, 21 passes defended, five interceptions, five fumble recoveries, and two forced fumbles. He struggled through a midseason torn pectoral, and the defense struggled while he was ailing. Now he’s back to full health, and here to stay with the Bills.
Signing QB Mitchell Trubisky
It was astonishing to see Josh Allen develop into an MVP candidate in 2020, but that raised a different fear in Bills fans: what if he gets hurt? Most NFL backup quarterbacks aren’t going to be able to win you a game in the clutch, let alone for an extended stretch of weeks with the starter sidelined.
So it was a coup that the Bills signed former Bears starter Mitchell Trubisky as their new backup. For $2.5 million, they now have a player with a 29-21 record as a starter, who threw 64 TDs to 37 INTs and 10,609 yards in four seasons. A player who added 1,057 rushing yards and eight rushing TDs in that stretch. His on-field record is flawed, which is why the Chicago Bears moved on, but he has an argument as the most talented (non-rookie) backup in the league. Meanwhile, Trubisky gets to benefit from a year of tutelage with offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.
Retaining Levi Wallace for $1.75 million
In 2021, Levi Wallace will have the 80th-ranked salary compensation among NFL cornerbacks. Spoiler alert: Even if you count nickel DBs, there are only 96 starting cornerbacks in the entire league. It’s a little odd that the market never emerged for a player with 28 starts, four interceptions, 17 passes defended, and an 85.4 passer rating against—but maybe that speaks to how neatly the former UDFA fit into the Bills’ scheme.
It’s a good thing Wallace is coming back, because the Bills don’t really have a backup plan aside from former seventh rounder Dane Jackson. Wallace has been a steady starter for the team, and keeping that quality around for a bargain price is an excellent move.
Honorable mention: Team-friendly contracts for Daryl Williams and Jon Feliciano
Aside from Milano, the biggest concern with pending free agents was that two-fifths of the starting offensive line could depart for another franchise. Most fans and analysts didn’t even think the Bills could afford to pay all three players but, in addition to Milano, the Bills brought back Daryl Williams and Jon Feliciano. It’s a massive relief that all five starters from a solid offensive line could return to the lineup for another year, but the silver lining was the cost. Both contracts have a reasonable cost through their duration, and they could also qualify as one-year deals thanks to low amounts of guaranteed money in the details. It’s a great marriage of value and flexibility for a franchise that needs both with Josh Allen’s next contract looming on the horizon.