Every year during NFL free agency, teams love to sign players who have connections to their coaches. With an entirely new coaching staff (minus special teams coordinator Danny Crossman), the Buffalo Bills have a myriad of new player-coach connections worth monitoring closely.
For your convenience, here is a compilation of logical player-coach connections with pertinent player information for the Bills among players set to be free agents in March.
They’ve been labeled in three ways; direct connections, indirect connections, and past connections. Direct Connections played for the coach in 2016 on that coach’s side of the ball. Indirect Connections played with the coach in 2016 but on the other side of the ball. Past Connections played for the coach on a different team before 2016, generally on the same side of the ball. (Note: only direct connections are listed for non-coordinators. Coaches with an “assistant” tag on their job title are not included. Also, the age listed for each player is how old they’ll be when the 2017 regular season begins.)
Sean McDermott, Head Coach
DT Kawann Short
With McDermott from 2013 to 2016, this 6’3”, 299-pound defensive tackle is 28 and recorded 11 sacks in 2015 and six in 2016. He has played in the past 32 regular season games. (Carolina hit Short with the non-exclusive franchise tag, but Short has yet to sign it.)
DT Kyle Love
After bouncing around to start his NFL career, Love found a home in Carolina in 2014. The 6’1”, 301-pounder, who’s 30, appeared in 25 games over the past two seasons for the Panthers and recorded 4.5 sacks.
CB Leonard Johnson
Only with McDermott in 2016, the 5’10”, 198-pound defensive back was also with Leslie Frazier in Tampa Bay in 2014. That year, he had 46 tackles, four passes defended, and one interception. This past season, the 27 year old didn’t have a pick but made 30 tackles and had a sack.
DT Paul Soliai
Played for the Panthers in 2016. Made eight tackles and forced one fumble in 10 games. He’s 33 years old.
WR Ted Ginn
The speedy 5’11”, 178-pound receiver was with McDermott in 2013, 2015, and 2016. At 32 years old, he is coming off a 54-catch, 752-yard season with four touchdowns.
FB Mike Tolbert (SIGNED WITH BILLS)
The 31-year-old was in Carolina from 2012 to 2016. Made the Pro Bowl in 2013 and 2015.
Rick Dennison, offensive coordinator
WR Jordan Taylor
The 6’5”, 204-pound receiver had 16 catches for 209 yards and two touchdowns in 2016 and is 25.
WR Jordan Norwood
With Dennison the past two seasons in Denver, he has a pair of 20-catch, 200-yard seasons and scored two touchdowns in 2016. He is 5’11”, and 171 pounds and 30 years old.
WR Bennie Fowler
Another receiver with Dennison for the past two seasons, the 6’1”, 217-pound 26-year-old had 27 receptions for 348 yards and two touchdowns.
RB Justin Forsett
The 31-year-old running back was in Denver in 2016 but also worked with the coordinator in Baltimore in 2014 and Houston in 2012. Looking past his 43 carries for 155 yards and a touchdown a year ago, the 5’8”, 190-pound back had 235 carries, 1,266 yards, and eight touchdowns in 2014.
DL Sylvester Williams,
A 6’3”, 313-pound lineman who had 29 tackles and a sack in 2016.
DL Vance Walker
Walker played with Denver in 2016 but spent last year on injured reserve. The 6’2”, 295-pound lineman is 30.
CB Kayvon Webster
The 27-year-old played in 28 games in the past two seasons for Denver but recorded only one pass defended in 13 games a year ago. He is 5’11”, 195-pounds.
WR Kamar Aiken
The former Bills receiver was with Dennison in Baltimore in 2014. He had 24 receptions, 267 yards, and 3 touchdowns that season. The 6’2”, 213-pound wideout is 28. Leslie Frazier was on the Ravens coaching staff in 2016.
Leslie Frazier, defensive coordinator
DE Lawrence Guy
At 27 years old, the 6’5”, 300-pound former Ravens defender registered 28 tackles, 1 sack in 16 games in 2016
S Matt Elam
Elam notched just one tackle in nine games for the Ravens. He is 25 and 5’10”, 208-pounds.
CB Jerraud Powers
At 30, Powers had 33 tackles, 2 interceptions, 1 sack, and 5 passes defended in 13 games in 2016. He is 30, 5’9”, and 190-pounds.
S Bradley McDougald
He spent two seasons with Frazier with the Buccaneers recording 50 tackles, 7 passes defended, 1 interception in 15 games in 2014 and 87 tackles, 4 passes defended, 2 interceptions in 16 games in 2015. The 6’0”, 215-pound safety is 26.
CB Josh Robinson
It’s been a few years sine their two seasons together in Minnesota, but Robinson had two 50-tackle seasons over the past two years. He is 5’10”, 199 pounds.
LB Gerald Hodges
Standing 6’1”, 243 pounds, the 26-year-old was with Frazier in 2013. His stats were minimal that year.
David Culley, quarterbacks coach
Kansas City Chiefs: RB Knile Davis
Bob Babich, linebackers coach
San Diego Chargers: LB Melvin Ingram, LB/DE Manti Te’o, LB Tourek Williams
Rob Boras, tight ends coach
Los Angeles Rams: WR Brian Quick, QB Case Keenum, RB Benny Cunningham
Juan Castillo, offensive line coach / run game coordinator
Baltimore Ravens: Vladimir Ducasse, OL (SIGNED WITH BILLS)
Kelly Skipper, running backs coach
Jacksonville Jaguars: OL Patrick Omameh, RB Denard Robinson, WR Bryan Walters, OL Kelvin Beachum
Mike Waufle, defensive line coach
St. Louis Rams: CB Trumaine Johnson, S T.J. McDonald, DT Cam Thomas