What can we expect from the Bills in free agency?

Posted Mar 2, 2018

Though the Bills are busy doing their due diligence on the top college prospects at the NFL combine, GM Brandon Beane is also finalizing a plan for NFL free agency. Read this and more in our 'Road to the Draft' coverage, presented by Dunn Tire.

The Bills have 18 players who will become unrestricted free agents in less than two weeks absent a new contract with Buffalo. Bringing all of them back into the fold is unrealistic, and the Bills, as they should be, are always looking to upgrade as GM Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott work to build a roster that can perennially contend.

Beane wants to “responsibly spend” in free agency as he continues to get his operable cap room in a more manageable position. So what is reasonable to expect from the Bills come March 14th when the market opens?

“We’ve got some flexibility,” Beane told with respect to their cap room for 2018. “We made some moves last year. It’s not where we want it to be, where we want to get it in time. But we did make some moves to help us sign some of our guys back and to dip our toe into the free agent waters where we see fits for what Sean and I are trying to do.”

Knowing their cap space isn’t ideal does this mean that spending free agent dollars on a quarterback, where the price can be steep, is off the table?

Beane said no.

“We definitely have to consider that market and there are more guys out there than you normally see at the quarterback in free agency for various reasons,” Beane said. “Some due to injury, some due to multiple guys under contract. We will do our due diligence there.

“To make a move like that you have to know that it’s a better player than the two we have on our team, which would be Tyrod (Taylor) and Nathan (Peterman). Both those guys bring a lot of value to our team, so we have to take all those factors into consideration.

“You have to weigh what is the cost? What it does to your cap? What other moves you can do around it.”

In terms of re-signing their own, Beane isn’t closing the door on any of his pending free agents and intends to gauge what some of them are thinking this week, knowing full well that most will be interested in testing the market at this point.

“I get it, they want to see what their market is and what their value is and what teams think. I’m sure if they want to be back that they probably have a number (in mind),” Beane said. “Every guy has their own thing. For some guys it is about money and I respect that, and some guys say it’s about their family situation. I respect the process and they understand that because they haven’t committed to us we can’t leave ourselves empty handed should they choose to sign with another team.”

That’s part of the reason why the Bills signed Vontae Davis, who was a free agent before the market opened after he was released by the Colts last season. Though Beane said the Davis signing doesn’t change their desire to re-sign E.J. Gaines.

Preston Brown and Kyle Williams are two of the other more notable names on Buffalo’s free agent list, but Beane wouldn’t put odds on the likelihood of re-signing either player.

“I never want to state where we are confidence-wise until I see the ink drying from the signature, because I’ve seen guys that I honestly thought this deal is done and then at the last minute it wasn’t,” Beane said. “I just mentioned all it takes is one team. Our job is to put the value where we see. Look at the market. It’s like pricing houses. Where do you see his value rank in the market? Can you pay that? How do allocate your resources?

“Preston did a great job this past season. Really bought in. Did some really good things on the field. We have to see what our value is on him compared to what somebody else sees him. Hopefully we work something out.

“I have a lot of respect for Kyle. I told him the time frame we would try to get something out to him, which we communicate with him. He’s a free agent and has to do his due diligence. I respect that. Hopefully we can get him back. That’s my goal. Again, it takes two to tango. We’ll see what happens.”