The Buffalo Bills and general manager Brandon Beane set out on a mission early this offseason to improve the play along the offensive line for the 2023 NFL season. The team signed offensive guard Connor McGovern fairly quickly in free agency, then brought in David Edwards. While the NFL Draft hasn’t started and OTAs feel ages away, it isn’t too soon to critique teams’ moves in free agency.
Arif Hasan with Pro Football Network penned a piece recently that claims the Buffalo Bills’ decision to sign Connor McGovern and pay what’s been reported is among the worst decisions in this year’s free agency. Hasan notes McGovern’s ability as a pass protector — a Pro Football Focus (PFF)-rated 74.8 in 2022). But Hasan lobs that success as a back-handed compliment when claiming McGovern’s success came only in one season.
But the most damning assessment was of McGovern’s lack of ability as a run blocker — which PFF rated McGovern at 42.7 last season. Hasan believes this was an unwise move for a Bills team in search of improvement in the run game. He somehow neglects to discuss the major pass-protection issues that plagued a past-his-prime Rodger Saffold last season. McGovern was brought in to rectify multiple things, but chief among them was protection for quarterback Josh Allen.
The idea that his addition makes the run game worse seems a case of the cart before the horse here. The Bills faced myriad issues running the ball last year, and it’s quite possible play calling changes can rectify many of those issues. While McGovern’s PFF grade is a documented concern and he doesn’t have a wealth of starting experience to this point, he is only 25 and should be given the opportunity to prove he’s better and capable as a long-term starter with a new team.
Hasan believes the Buffalo Bills should have signed the other Connor McGovern in the NFL — the one who plays for the New York Jets. While true that he has an epic mustache and has played at a very high level during much of his career, suggesting that the Jets-uniformed McGovern would have been a far better value at the same cost they incurred to sign the once and former Cowboys-attired McGovern misses the mark. The Jets’ McGovern is a starting center in New Jersey, and would have never come that cheap. While perhaps up for debate due to his head injury history, the Bills weren’t looking to upgrade from current center Mitch Morse.
They were never going to pay the downstate McGovern what would have been required and then ask him to replace Saffold’s role. To recap, Buffalo and offensive guard Connor McGovern agreed to a three-year $22.35 million contract, with a $4 million cap hit in 2023 (story)
What do you think, Bills Mafia — should we hold off on the pitchforks until actually getting to discover McGovern’s work with his new team? Were you concerned with the contract when it was first announced or no — and has your opinion on it changed as free agency unfolded?