When it comes to the Buffalo Bills and 2015 NFL free agency, the attention of most fans is split between whether or not the Bills will be able to afford to re-sign Jerry Hughes, and the tempting array of pending free agents from other teams that would conceivably make Buffalo better.
There are, however, more Bills free agents that should be discussed more frequently. C.J. Spiller is, weirdly, one of them; another guy even more under the radar is starting safety Da'Norris Searcy.
Quietly, Searcy has emerged as a quality player in Buffalo over the past two seasons. While he doesn't play a full-time starter's complement of reps on a routine basis, he proved adept both in pass coverage and run support in his first year as a nominal starter in 2014, grading out No. 7 in the league at his position supporting the run with Pro Football Focus, and in the top half of the league in coverage, as well.
Searcy will never be considered one of the league's best cover safeties, but on Buffalo's defense in particular, he has been a valuable contributor in all phases. In the last two seasons, he has accumulated 136 tackles, four sacks, four interceptions, and two defensive touchdowns.
Spotrac.com, which has been projecting free agent contracts for a few weeks now, has Searcy's earning potential this March at four years, $21.2 million, with $8 million guaranteed. For the sake of comparison, the Bills re-signed their top safety, Aaron Williams, to a four-year, $26 million extension with $14.6 million guaranteed last offseason.
It's easy to guess that Hughes (whose Spotrac projection, by the way, is five years, $60.9 million, with $20.7 million guaranteed if he hits the open market) is the Bills' top re-signing priority this offseason. And while it's true that the team has an intriguing third-year prospect in Duke Williams waiting in the wings if Searcy departs, it's also mildly disconcerting to consider the idea that Buffalo's improving defense might lose more than just the one starter this offseason.
What sort of priority would you put on Buffalo re-signing Searcy, Bills fans?