Bills clearly targeted their most obvious needs this offseason
With the National Football League’s 2019 league year set to officially begin today at 4 p.m., the Buffalo Bills have already been very proactive in addressing the team’s biggest needs. Coming into the free agent period, no team had less money allocated to the position groups of wide receivers, tight ends and offensive line than the Bills did. That will officially change today.
The Bills have taken advantage of the “legal tampering” phase of free agency, which began on Monday and runs up until the league year begins this afternoon. In that time, Buffalo came to agreements with players from all three areas of need. The wasteland that was the tight end position in Buffalo over the painful Charles Clay era was addressed by the signing of Tyler Kroft, formerly of Cincinnati. While the three-year pact of over $18 million seems rich for a tight end who has not proven much yet in the NFL, the contract is more complex than that. In actuality, the Bills could easily get out of the deal after just one year, should he not produce. It is basically a low-risk flier on a player with potential at a position the Bills have always struggled to get production from.
Buffalo also addressed the offensive line, in multiple spots, this offseason. Before the negotiating window opened on Monday, the Bills had already signed Spencer Long, who the New York Jets decided wasn’t worth his price tag after just one year. Long will be an option for the interior line, as will Jon Feliciano, the former Raider who agreed to a two-year deal with Buffalo on Tuesday. Also on Tuesday, Ty Nsekhe agreed to terms with the Bills, giving Buffalo a potential starter at right tackle should Buffalo not make a bigger splash at the position in free agency or the NFL Draft. Nsekhe has spent his career to this point as a swing option on the line, and he could fill that role for Buffalo this year. The biggest move of all on the line for Buffalo — and the biggest financial commitment Buffalo has made this offseason — came on Monday, when the Bills agreed to terms with the top center on the market, Mitch Morse, formerly of Kansas City. With a four-year, $44.5 million pact with $20.4 million guaranteed at signing, Morse becomes the league’s highest paid center in Buffalo. This comes after a year where Morse graded out in the top 10 in the league analytically, according to Pro Football Focus. After a dreadful unit last season failed to protect whoever the Bills started at quarterback, the front office in Buffalo clearly made it a point to bring in as much help as possible to protect the young franchise quarterback Josh Allen.
The final of the three groups to be addressed by the Bills was the wide receiver position, but the Bills weren’t satisfied with just one new option for Allen to target. On Tuesday, Buffalo agreed to terms with wide receivers John Brown, formerly of Baltimore, as well as Cole Beasley, formerly of Dallas. In Brown, the Bills agreed to a three-year, $27 million deal for one of the league’s quickest deep threats. With a quarterback who loves to throw the ball deep like Allen does, Brown has the tools to fit in perfectly in Buffalo. In Beasley, the Bills finally found a slot receiver who can consistently get himself open. Beasley is the type of player who can fit in any system, and if he is utilized correctly, the four-year, $29 million deal agreed upon to bring him to Buffalo could seem like a bargain.
Also of note, Buffalo signed former first round pick cornerback Kevin Johnson to compete for the starting cornerback slot across from Tre’Davious White. Johnson was the 16th overall pick by the Houston Texans in the 2015 NFL Draft, but has not managed to stay healthy enough over his young career to develop into a top-tier corner. Still, the potential is there, which makes this low-risk, high-reward signing another solid move for the Bills. Buffalo also addressed its leadership void after the departure of Kyle Williams by agreeing to sign future Hall of Fame running back Frank Gore. At 35 years old, Gore has seen it all at a position that mileage is a detriment, but Gore still posted respectable numbers in Miami last season.
While the Buffalo Bills are putting pen to paper today to finalize the deals they have agreed upon so far this offseason, it’s easy to see the contract figures and feel skeptical — but that’s how free agency goes. Year after year in the NFL, teams pay a high price tag to fill their needs. The positive for Bills fans to take so far is that Buffalo has been aggressive, motivated and focused on filling the biggest holes on the roster. That’s something Bills Mafia should be excited about.