The Buffalo Bills went 11-6 during the regular season, captured back-to-back AFC East championships and routed the New England Patriots in the Wild Card round before suffering an agonizing loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in an AFC Divisional Round game during the 2021 season.
The Bills have now qualified for the playoffs in four of the last five years under general manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott. Buffalo will have some work to do to keep this talented roster together, though, and the Bills will have some interesting personnel decisions to make this offseason.
Heading into free agency, the Bills have 16 total free agents: 14 unrestricted free agents (UFA), one restricted free agent (RFA), and one exclusive-rights free agent (ERFA).
Unrestricted free agents can either re-sign with their current club, or can test out free agency.
Restricted free agents are players with exactly three years of NFL service time who can be tendered contracts by their teams, and if they choose to sign a deal with another team, their former club has the right to match the deal or let them go.
Exclusive-rights free agents (ERFA) only hit free agency if their current team (Bills, in this case) opts to non-tender them at a salary equivalent to the league minimum for the player’s age. Unlike restricted free agents, ERFA’s cannot negotiate a contract with another team once the tender is applied.
The biggest names on the list? There are several starters on both sides of the ball, including cornerback Levi Wallace, who started all 19 games and had three interceptions; defensive end Jerry Hughes, who had three sacks and 21 quarterback hurries; defensive tackle Harrison Phillips, who recorded 58 tackles with one sack; wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Isaiah McKenzie, who combined for 69 receptions, 903 receiving yards and seven touchdowns; and backup quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.
Among the other intriguing internal free agents are swingman Ryan Bates, who filled in admirably as Buffalo’s starting left guard, defensive end Efe Obada, who showed promise and a penchant for getting after the quarterback in a part-time role, and defensive tackle Justin Zimmer.
Here is Buffalo’s breakdown of free agents:
Mario Addison (DE), Ike Boettger (G), Matt Breida (RB), Vernon Butler (DT), Jerry Hughes (DE), Taiwan Jones (RB/special teams), Efe Obada (DE), Isaiah McKenzie (WR), Siran Neal (S), Harrison Phillips (DT), Emmanuel Sanders (WR), Mitchell Trubisky (QB), Levi Wallace (CB), Justin Zimmer (DT).
Ryan Bates (G)
Tyrel Dodson (LB)