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Beane, Bills able to re-recruit players to return in free agency

It’s not just Josh, there has to be something more

Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

The Buffalo Bills have made some tough choices over the last few years, releasing or choosing not to re-sign certain players as they built a winner. Now that general manager Brandon Beane has spent some time in the big chair, it’s been interesting to watch this offseason as several of those players have returned.

Quarterback Matt Barkley, LB Marquel Lee, and DE Shaq Lawson may not have had a lot of options, and they all signed veteran minimum deals. A guy like Jordan Phillips, though, was on the Arizona Cardinals and signed for well above the veteran minimum, but when he was released, he was in Buffalo by the end of the day.

On the Bills, a bunch of players hit free agency and chose to return at market-level or below market-level deals including WR Jake Kumerow, RB Taiwan Jones, OG Ike Boettger, OT Bobby Hart and guys who signed for considerable sums of money like WR Isaiah McKenzie, CB Siran Neal, and OG Ryan Bates.

Punter Matt Haack took a pay cut to the minimum to stay.

Center Mitch Morse and WR Stefon Diggs signed multi-year contract extensions to stay with the team. All of that is in addition to quarterback Josh Allen, who committed to staying in Buffalo for eight seasons when he signed a six-year extension last offseason.

What’s that all mean? The general manager doesn’t burn bridges when a player leaves, even if he’s cut or signs for more money. The head coach isn’t some mean cuss that no one wants to play for. Allen can alleviate a lot of on-field fears, making it easier for players to sign here. Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott value consistency and knowledge of a player.

That last point goes back to when they started here, too. The pair added a bunch of former Carolina Panthers not because those guys were looking for jobs, but because they knew, liked, and trusted McDermott and Beane to treat people the right way and build a winner. Those players valued the consistency of McDermott and Beane as much as the Bills’ duo valued consistency.

It’s just another indicator of the culture change at One Bills Drive, and a welcome one.