Our Buffalo Bills have been quite busy this offseason. Brian and the gang have been pushing out article after article, keeping us up to date on free agent signings, trades, and the latest rumors. Even though I have some visibility of what goes on behind the scenes here at Buffalo Rumblings, I still don't know how in the world Brian and Matt do it. It's absolutely amazing how they can find the time to push out these articles at a moment's notice. We all should consider ourselves lucky.
Now that things have quieted down a bit, I thought now was a good time to do an offseason review. I would like to know whether or not you approve or disapprove of the moves that the Bills have made thus far.
The basis of the article is simple: I will list the relevant transactions thus far, and you'll give it a thumbs up if you approved, or a thumbs down if you disapproved. We all know that a simple thumbs up or down won't cut it here at Buffalo Rumblings, so be sure to explain your reasoning.
To get things started, I'm going to give you my opinion. Feel free to challenge me and defend your position.
I initially gave this trade a thumbs down, primarily because of the $10.25 million salary cap hit that McCoy was carrying. After the Bills were able to restructure his contract, I came around. McCoy is an upgrade over Spiller, and a back that is pretty versatile and reliable. Losing Alonso was a tough pill to swallow - he's young, cheap, and a really good football player - but the two ACL injuries must've really scared the Bills. There might be more to his injury that we don't know about.
If you want to give this trade a thumbs down, I wouldn't blame you. McCoy's style isn't necessarily a perfect fit in a two-back system, even though he was in one in college. His numbers dropped a bit last season, and some critics think he's on a decline due to his workload. However, McCoy's explanation was that he was used differently, and that there were injuries on Philadelphia's offensive line. Giving a running back huge amounts of cash nowadays is a huge risk, but a player like McCoy is worth it. A team like the Bills, who lack adequate quarterback play, can benefit from an explosive running back that can go the distance on any play.
I'll be contradicting myself later, because Harvin has been known to be a poor locker room guy, but I see the Harvin signing as a low-risk, high-reward kind of signing. It's been reported as a three-year deal, with the remaining two years being a team option. What is also encouraging: Rex Ryan vouched for Harvin's character on The Howard Simon Show on WGR550 this past Friday.
Critics of the signing point to Harvin's lack of production over the past few seasons, and his inability to stay healthy with chronic migraines and various injuries. However, what can't be argued is his ability to do many things on the football field. His big-play ability and his versatility will make him a highly useful piece in Greg Roman's offense. The lack of a good quarterback in Buffalo can make a player like Harvin very valuable.
I'm at the point now where I don't even care about off-field character concerns. We all are aware of the baggage that Incognito brings, and quite frankly, I'm okay with it. I'm so desperate for wins, I'm willing to disregard all of his past transgressions. Is he better than Kraig Urbik, Cyril Richardson, and Chris Williams? Yes. Let's sign him. I think fans at times get too caught up in morality, and sometimes forget that the only thing that really matters is winning. For all intents and purposes, Incognito's teammates liked him in Miami. As long as he's a good locker room guy, I'm okay with it.
Living here in Baltimore, I can tell you that a lot of Ravens fans hated that he was leaving. Here is a guy who hasn't had a legitimate opportunity to play much in the NFL. The Bills have a lot of uncertainty at the quarterback position, and the more competition, the better. The best part about this signing is that it didn't cost the Bills any assets, and they were able to sign him to a contract that they were comfortable with. Taylor can do many things, and is a better passer of the football than giving credit for. Looking how Roman used Colin Kaepernick, I can see Taylor doing some of the same things.
What's not to like about this signing? Easley, a fan favorite since his rookie year, struggled with injuries and a heart ailment. He managed being cut by the team and worked his way off of the practice squad. Never really given an opportunity to play receiver, he managed to find his niche on special teams as a gunner, and an occasional return man. Amongst the leaders in special team tackles, Easley has cemented himself as one of the best in the league, and got paid handsomely for it, signing a four-year, $7 million deal. Easley is a great guy and comes from a great family, and I'm glad he was able to secure a life for himself and his family.
We all love Meatball, and I'm glad the Bills were able to sign him for an additional season. Williams should play on this team for as long as he likes.
This split is probably best for both parties. For whatever reason, Spiller just couldn't maximize his talents here in Buffalo. Like many of you, I grew tired of watching Spiller miss open running lanes, struggle picking up blitzes, bounce plays to the outside, pull himself out of games, and lose yards on running plays. Spiller's struggles weren't entirely his fault. The offensive line struggled for the past two seasons, and the offensive scheme didn't cater to his skill set. However, Spiller doesn't do too many things well at this point in his career. He's proven that he's not a feature back in this league. The four-year, $16 million contract that the Saints signed him to is a little too rich for me. I'm glad he got his money, and I'm glad the Bills moved on. Win-win!
The Bills are pretty deep at the safety position. Duke Williams, Bacarri Rambo, and Jonathan Meeks are all in the running to fill Searcy's shoes at the other safety position opposite Aaron Williams. Searcy, who played 59.6 percent of snaps last season and 63.7 percent two seasons ago, signed a four-year, $23.75 million deal, with $10.5 million guaranteed to play for the Titans. As much as I like Searcy, I just didn't think he was worth that kind of money, especially here in Buffalo, where he saw the field an average of three out of five plays. I'm glad that he got paid, but I think the Bills did a good job not retaining his services.
One of the quietest re-signings of the off-season, the Bills locked up their four-or five-technique defensive in Ryan's hybrid defense. Wynn was having a pretty decent year as a rotational defensive end last year, before a knee injury cost him five games. Now, he will play in his more natural position as a five-technique defensive end, and I expect him to be a key member of the Bills' run defense.
He struggled with injuries his whole career, and struggled here in Buffalo. Rivers had tons of talent and potential, but he's never been the same since Hines Ward shattered his jaw on a bone-crushing hit his rookie season. A guy like Rivers is easily replaceable.
As much as I loved Hughes these past two seasons, I just don't think he's necessarily needed in this Rex Ryan defense. Playing for Mike Pettine, he was a situational pass rusher, playing in 52.8 percent of the team's snaps, and came off the field for Manny Lawson in obvious run downs. I imagine he will be used in the same way, thus making it hard to justify a $45 million contract.
I'll admit, what's encouraging is that Hughes did prove that he can be an every-down player under Jim Schwartz; he totaled 10 sacks and was pretty solid against the run last season. At 26, there is still room for growth, but I would've preferred a cheaper alternative. Nonetheless, this is the Bills' fifth different defense in five years, and he might be playing in a base 4-3 defense next year. Who knows?
Unlike many Bills fans, I like Chandler. Yes, he was limited athletically, had inconsistent hands, and was a putrid blocker, but he was a big target and a true red zone threat, plus he had one of the best touchdown celebrations ever. Many people forget that he led the team in receiving two seasons ago.
I do believe Clay is an upgrade and a better all-around fit for Roman's offense, but paying the fourth or fifth best tight end in the league upwards of $7.5 million a year is way too much. Plus, it appears that the Bills are going to front-load the contract with $24.5 million to be paid in the first two years; that will put the Bills in a dicey situation next offseason when it's time to re-sign players like Stephon Gilmore and Cordy Glenn.
There was really no answer at quarterback in the free agent market, so the Bills decided to trade for one. The problem I have isn't with Cassel, but with the Bills trading anything for him. Cassel was more than likely going to be cut, and if the Bills really wanted him, they could've signed him in free agency. Instead, they traded a pick, and absorbed his contract. Yes, there was no guarantee that Cassel would have been cut or would've come to Buffalo if he was, but how much would the Bills would have lost out on if he didn't sign here?
I have no problem with the player and his value to a team, but I just don't understand why would they put McCoy in the backfield with a fullback. McCoy has had his success in this league in a single-back system, and is at his best in space. Having a lead back seems to take away from that. What is also disappointing is that Felton will never be on the field at the same time as McCoy, Clay, Sammy Watkins, Harvin, and Robert Woods. I'm sure Roman can and will draw up some plays that utilize Felton's strengths, but it seems like overkill to me.
The idea of a kickoff specialist is a bit ridiculous to me. The idea of a kicker and a punter is also ridiculous to me as well. I mean seriously, how hard is it to do both? Is Dan Carpenter that terrible at kicking off, that the Bills need to have someone who specializes in it? What really irks me is that Gay wasn't even that good last year. Maybe my expectations are a little high, but I expected better than a 59 percent touchback rate.