The Buffalo Bills are heading into year three under their new regime, led by general manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott. What they do this offseason will set the tone for where the organization is heading in the coming future.
A year removed from making the playoffs for the first time since the 2000 season, the Buffalo Bills look headed in the right direction. Led by head coach Sean McDermott, Buffalo has established itself on defense, albeit a few aging veterans. Tremaine Edmonds and Tre’Davious White headline what was the second-best defense in terms of yards per game in 2018. It’s not until you flip the field to the offensive side of the ball that you see where Beane needs to focus.
Josh Allen, the seventh overall pick in last year’s draft, is Buffalo’s quarterback of the future. His rookie season saw some highs and some lows, more the latter than the former. He finished the year with a PFN OSM (Offensive Share Metric) grade of 15. Allen was also the second-worst rated quarterback according to Pro Football Focus.
Outside of Allen, the rest of the offense is one big shoulder shrug. Most notably is LeSean McCoy who now finds himself on the wrong side of 30. He’s seen his production drop as of late and could be one of the many veterans around the league cut once the new league year commences on March 13. Charles Clay already beat him to the punch, having found a new home with the Arizona Cardinals.
Making cuts isn’t necessarily a necessity for Beane. After all, he’s got $83 million in cap space heading into the offseason. Players like Jordan Phillips and John Miller are unrestricted free agents but should be back in Buffalo on competitive deals somewhere around $2 million per year.
Using Spotrac to calculate, cutting McCoy – freeing $6.4 million – and re-signing both Phillips and Miller, Buffalo could find themselves with over $84 million in their pocket.
Does Le’Veon Bell make sense for the Bills?
So what could that kind of money net them in free agency? Look no further than what’ll be one of the most coveted free agents in recent history – Le’Veon Bell.
Bell is going to have a hot market. After being held hostage by the Pittsburgh Steelers organization the past three seasons, he finally has a chance to make the money he rightfully deserves. Is Beane going to be able to convince him that a spot like Buffalo is more desirable?
What we know is Bell will command something north of $10 million-per-year. Anything over $9.8 million will make him the richest running back in the league, and Buffalo has more than enough to compensate.
The question will be whether or not Bell wants to play in Buffalo. After all, Bell can make just as much money playing behind a better line – and experienced quarterback – in a place like Indianapolis. That’s one question that is going to be answered in the coming weeks.
Another question will be what exactly will Beane do to fix his offensive line. He’s possibly already found his starting center in Spencer Long, signing him to a three-year, $12.6 million contract. Miller would be the next step as would re-signing Jordan Mills if he so chooses. However, there’s a tackle in Tampa Bay right now in Donovan Smith who, if he becomes available, would be a target for Buffalo to take over at left tackle and in turn move Dion Dawkins over to the right side of the line.
Draft Day Ammunition
If none of that materializes, however, Beane has plenty of ammo come draft day. Below is each pick he currently owns in the 2019 NFL Draft:
- First Round: 9th overall
- Second Round: 40th overall
- Third Round: 74th overall
- Fourth Round: 106th overall
- Fourth Round: 125th overall
- Fifth Round: 138th overall
- Fifth Round: 149th overall
- Sixth Round: 170th overall
- Seventh Round: 205th overall
- Seventh Round: 208th overall
Starting in round one, Buffalo has to look to address an offensive position. Whether that be on the line or out wide, there is a lot of talent to be had. Jawaan Taylor (Florida), Jonah Williams (Alabama), and Dalton Risner (Kansas State) are all in play to go ninth overall. Taylor is projected at tackle while Williams and Risner could play either tackle or guard at the next level.
The pretty pick here, though, is Ole Miss’ DJ Metcalf. Buffalo’s receivers have been nothing but disappointing since the Eric Moulds/Lee Evans days with an exception to Stevie Johnson. While Zay Jones has his days and Robert Foster flashed, Metcalf would provide that number-one option Allen needs in the passing game.
If Metcalf is drafted in round one, Buffalo should stick to the offensive side of the ball on day two. Depending on how free agency plays out, round two is a sweet spot for many running backs. However, they might be able to get a guy like David Montgomery (Iowa State) to slide to them in the third. Doing so would allow Buffalo to address the offensive line with Andre Dillard (Washington State) at 40th overall.
The other seven picks can be looked at as depth on both sides of the ball. You can’t expect every pick to be a hit. However, obtaining 3-5 solid pieces out of this draft class is crucial to the future for Beane, McDermott, and the entire Buffalo organization.