Now that the 2015 season has come to a close for the 8-8 Buffalo Bills, our attention, sadly, turns to the offseason once again as the NFL playoffs begin this weekend. We'll start in free agency, where the Bills have a bunch of big-name contributors looking for new deals. These, according to OverTheCap.com, are the Bills' 2016 free agents.
- OT Cordy Glenn
- OG Richie Incognito
- LB Nigel Bradham
- CB Ron Brooks
- DT Alex Carrington
- WR Percy Harvin
- WR Leonard Hankerson
- WR Greg Salas (re-signed on Monday)
- QB Josh Johnson
About a month ago now, Bills GM Doug Whaley said that re-signing Glenn and Incognito would be a top priority for the Bills this spring. That won't be cheap to pull off, but the Bills want to establish continuity on a line that paved the way for the NFL's best rushing attack in 2015.
Bradham's free agency will be an interesting case study on the direction of Buffalo's defense under Rex Ryan heading into 2016. Bradham is a quality player with plus athleticism, but may not be an ideal fit for the classic example of Ryan's defensive personnel; if the Bills' interest in Bradham is lukewarm heading into free agency, that'll be an indication that Ryan wants to make that unit over.
Brooks and Carrington are reserve-type players with injury concerns. Harvin isn't a reserve-type player, but his injury concerns are much more pressing. (His three-year deal will be voided, making him a free agent.) Hankerson, Salas, and Johnson were in-season street free agent signings meant to provide depth.
- DT Corbin Bryant
- S Bacarri Rambo
- WR Chris Hogan
- OT Jordan Mills
- LB Ty Powell
- DT Stefan Charles
- TE MarQueis Gray
These, for the record, are restricted free agents - so unlike the list above, the Bills have a modicum of control in re-signing these players, as they're able to place tender offers on them. These players are therefore much easier to retain.
This is a quality list of players for the Bills. Bryant and Rambo played big roles for Buffalo's defense this season, and while neither should be a starter, both are solid contributors that would provide next year's defense with excellent depth. Powell could be added to that list, as well; he was having a strong training camp this past summer before a season-ending knee injury.
Hogan and Mills also seem destined to return as depth players on offense; Mills closed out the year as the starting right tackle, and Hogan once again saw a lot of playing time. In fact, it would not be terribly surprising if all seven of these players were brought back.
- P Colton Schmidt (re-signed on 1/4/15)
- RB Mike Gillislee (re-signed on 1/4/15)
- CB Mario Butler (re-signed on 1/4/15)
- RB Cierre Wood
Schmidt had a good season for the Bills, finishing seventh in the NFL with a 41.3-yard net punting average, tenth with a 46.3-yard gross average, and just three touchbacks. He could stand to improve his punts downed inside the 20-yard line stat - he ranked No. 23 in that category - but the Bills have found themselves a pretty good, 25-year-old punter.
Gillislee will definitely be back, as the team was clearly impressed with his run-game contributions over the final month of the season. Butler probably deserves a longer look, as well, considering his strong performance in yesterday's season-ending win over New York.
Who do you think should be the Bills' top re-signing priority this offseason?