On Tuesday, ESPN's Bill Barnwell started a series in which he grades the 2016 offseason work of every NFL team. That work began in the AFC East, and specifically with the Buffalo Bills, who tied with New England for the highest grade in the division (a "B") by Barnwell's standards.
His write-up, however, was chiefly negative, despite the solid final grade. Here's a bullet-point list of all of the Bills-related things that seem to rub Barnwell the wrong way. They are paraphrased, except where noted.
- LeSean McCoy was outperformed by both Karlos Williams and Mike Gillislee in 2015
- The McCoy and Charles Clay deals "are two of the worst contracts in football right now"
- Mario Williams fell out of favor because he knew he'd end up being a cap casualty, anyway
- Shaq Lawson "profiles as more of an edge-setting run stopper" than the rusher needed to replace Williams
- "The Bills essentially used the 13th overall pick on (Reggie Ragland), given the amount they sent to Chicago"
- The Sammy Watkins trade of 2014 is a "deal that looks short-sighted"
- They "paid an exorbitant sum" to lock up Cordy Glenn
There is, unequivocally, some mind-numbing logic here - starting with the McCoy-Williams-Gillislee comment, and including the comments on Clay's contract, Lawson's scouting report, Glenn's extension, and most especially the math on the value of assets traded to land Ragland - that can easily be argued (though those types of arguments are never, ever fun). Many have done so in the day-plus since the article published. There are also some good points made, even as Bills fans fight the urge to come back down to earth during the hope-filled spring months of NFL fandom.
This probably reads like a take-down of Barnwell, but I don't mean it to be; even though I find this write-up curious, and even though this comments section will be riddled with scoffs and character assassinations directed toward Barnwell, I respect the general body of his work. And, to be certain, a series in which you're asked to write upwards of 1,000 words on each team, while simultaneously trying to be as comprehensive and as streamlined as possible, is a daunting project where one's reasoning and logic will more than occasionally be glossed over in the interest of brevity. The editing process did not seem to do him any favors, either.
These are all things I understand, so I'm choosing to maintain the typical month-of-May chill - especially on the McCoy and Ragland points - and landing here:
Specifically, this is how I am agreeing to disagree:
- McCoy is so much better than Karlos Williams and Gillislee it's crazy
- The McCoy and Clay deals aren't great, but there are bad - maybe even worse - deals at each of their positions, not to mention everywhere else
- Mario Williams might very well still be in Buffalo if he didn't stink last year
- Shaq Lawson may not ever be an elite pass rusher, but he'll certainly be better and more useful than a mere edge-setter
- Draft value charts are far too often treated like gospel; the Bills also have an extra mid-round pick next year that's not mentioned
- The Watkins trade may have been short-sighted, but hey, they ended up with a pretty damn good football player, too
- Glenn was paid the going rate for tackles, and there are others at his position with a higher percentage of their deals guaranteed
The "B"? I'm on board with that grade, though.