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Get to know these potential 2018 NFL free agents

Posted Feb 21, 2018

NFL free agency is still a couple of weeks away, but here are some players who could represent good value on the open market come mid-March.

Bills GM Brandon Beane said he liked the term ‘responsible spending’ when it came to free agency this offseason. He doesn’t appear interested in being part of any bidding wars for top flight free agents, and would prefer to get good value on the open market. In short, he’d like to address a few positional holes to reduce the pressure to find a handful of immediate answers in the NFL draft come late April.

Here’s a look at some of the prospective free agents to keep an eye on who could provide good talent at reasonable value at positions where the Bills have holes or may be looking to upgrade.

Aaron Colvin – Jacksonville

His statistics don’t jump off the page, but he’s viewed by many NFL personnel men as one of the better slot corners available.

Vontae Davis – Indianapolis
Released by the Colts last November after deciding to get season-ending groin surgery, Davis is a free agent right now, but is he healthy? That will largely determine his market value, but if he’s good to go, he’s still starting caliber outside even at age 29.

Kyle Fuller – Chicago
Fuller had a productive bounce-back season in 2017 after missing the 2016 campaign due to a knee injury. He set a single-season career high in tackles with an impressive 22 pass breakups and a pair of interceptions.

E.J. Gaines – Buffalo
Gaines was a bit of an unknown coming to the Bills via trade last season, but performed admirably on the boundary. His injury history is something to consider, while also realizing that Gaines may have his own preferences.

Leonard Johnson – Buffalo
He had a solid first season with the Bills and wants to continue playing for head coach Sean McDermott. Can the Bills and the slot corner extend the relationship?

Nevin Lawson – Detroit
A two-year starter outside for the Lions, the former fourth-round pick has developed into a steady player. Even if the Bills don’t see him as starting material, he could provide valuable depth knowing Shareece Wright is also a free agent.

Defensive Linemen
Denico Autry – Oakland
An effort player who fits the mold of what the Bills like off the edge. But is he an upgrade over steady edge defenders like Ryan Davis and Eddie Yarbrough? An affordable option.

Jay Bromley – NY Giants
A solid run defender inside, Bromley could have a chance to land a starting role after being a strong rotational player on the Giants defensive line.

Bennie Logan – Kansas City
After struggling to produce in the Chiefs 3-4 scheme, he might be looking for a return to a 4-3 system. Logan had more of an impact on games when he was with the Eagles.

Star Lotulelei – Carolina
His body type leaves opponents underestimating his athleticism. A power player on the interior, Lotulelei is a player the Bills brass knows well. An instant anchor for any team inside.

Dontari Poe – Atlanta
Poe didn’t provide the dominating inside presence the Falcons had hoped for last season. Will it do enough to impact his price tag this March?

Shamar Stephen – Minnesota
A good lateral moving defensive tackle, who is solid against the run. He was Linval Joseph’s backup in 2017, but started the year prior. The open market should give him some looks at a starting opportunity elsewhere.

Brent Urban – Baltimore
A Lisfranc foot injury landed this solid run stuffer on injured reserve after just three games. Coming off injury could make him more affordable if other teams steer clear.

Kyle Williams – Buffalo
Williams is just contemplating his future playing career. If he’s going to play a 13th year it’s going to be in Buffalo.

Jon Bostic – Indianapolis
He finished the season on injured reserve after a knee injury in Week 15, but the inside backer was productive for a Colts defense in 2017 (97 tackles).

Preston Brown – Buffalo
Leading the league in tackles will certainly help the middle linebacker’s market value, but are prospective suitors more interested in splash plays than consistency?

Kevin Pierre-Louis – Kansas City
A spot fill-in for veteran Derrick Johnson with the Chiefs, some 4-3 teams might see him as a better fit at weakside linebacker.

Avery Williamson – Tennessee
A solid run defender and capable in coverage, the four-year starter moves well. His 2017 season was a half-step down from his career best in 2016, but the 26-year old will draw solid interest.

Offensive linemen
Cameron Fleming – New England
He’s made 18 starts at tackle over the last three seasons. Is the 25-year old ready for a full-time starting gig somewhere else?

Zach Fulton – Kansas City
A durable and experienced guard, who at just 26 can shore up the interior for a team looking to upgrade.

Chris Hubbard – Pittsburgh
Proved to be more than capable as a starting right tackle when he made 10 starts in 2017 for the injured Marcus Gilbert.

Spencer Long – Washington
A good hand fighter in the pivot, Long, is a mobile lineman who can block in space. He’ll be in demand.

Kevin Pamphile – Tampa Bay
A two-year starter, who has played mostly left guard during that time. Is the Florida native willing to play for a team out of state?

Sam Bradford – Minnesota
Still one of the more talented QBs on the market, but his injury history is lengthy.

Kirk Cousins – Washington
He’ll be the most in-demand signal caller on the free agent market since Peyton Manning. Teams like Denver, Jacksonville and Minnesota figure to be in hot pursuit.

Case Keenum – Minnesota
More than a product of Minnesota’s system, Keenum demonstrated an ability to lengthen plays and keep the Vikings offense on the field. Will the Vikings make him the priority over Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater?

A.J. McCarron – Cincinnati
After winning his grievance, McCarron will be a free agent come mid-March. There’s not a big body of work to evaluate as McCarron has thrown just 133 NFL passes.

Running backs
Rex Burkhead – New England
A versatile threat out of the backfield, Burkhead will be looking for an offense that takes advantage of his multi-dimensional skills.

Travaris Cadet – Buffalo
A fractured ankle cut his season short in Week 16. He liked his role in Buffalo. Could the Bills re-sign him at an affordable rate?

Dion Lewis – New England
Lewis is a strong dual threat back, but can he hold up consistently enough in pass protection to handle a full-time third down role?

Morgan Burnett – Green Bay
A versatile safety with cover ability. He just turned 29 in January.

LaMarcus Joyner – L.A. Rams
A big hitter for a smaller-framed safety, Joyner can come down and handle most cover assignments in the slot.

Eric Reid – San Francisco
Capable of covering the deep half to playing a subpackage linebacker role, Reid can do just about everything. With his anthem protests however, cool interest?

Tight ends
Trey Burton – Philadelphia
Stuck behind Zach Ertz on the depth chart, Burton is an underrated weapon who offers versatility.

Tyler Eifert – Cincinnati
A playmaker in the pass game for sure, but also a significant injury risk.

Jimmy Graham – Seattle
Graham is still a matchup nightmare, but for how much longer? At 31-years old the tight end may not find an offer lasting more than two or three years.

Luke Wilson – Seattle
A solid complementary tight end, who represents an affordable option for most clubs.

Wide receivers

Jordan Matthews – Buffalo

The possession receiver fell on hard times in Buffalo with injury and had offseason surgery. He’s likely to consider high-volume passing attacks where he can maximize his production.

Donte Moncrief – Indianapolis
Teams will examine whether he struggled without his starting quarterback or because of his own devices. At just 24 however, there’s a lot of time on the clock to put more consistency in his game.

Allen Robinson – Jacksonville
The ACL injury will hurt his market value along with a 2016 season that was underwhelming compared to 2015. Who is willing to take the risk knowing Robinson is just 24-years old?

Albert Wilson – Kansas City
Good route runner, who can add some speed to a receiving corps.