Bills general manager Brandon Beane was gracious enough in these challenging times to spend more than an hour with the Western New York media on a conference call Thursday. He addressed a number of topics on what is sure to be a fluid and changing Bills offseason in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
1. Why the price paid to acquire Stefon Diggs was justified
The Stefon Diggs trade was obviously a big subject of discussion. A chief component of it was the price that Buffalo paid to acquire the elite wideout from Minnesota. The Bills parted with their first-round pick along with a fifth and sixth this year and a fourth-round pick next season to get Diggs and a seventh-round pick in return.
Some national analysts questioned how much Buffalo gave up to land Diggs, but Buffalo's general manager astutely pointed out how and why he and his personnel department felt it was justified.
Beane said what they gave up for Diggs essentially equated to moving up four spots in round one from their location of 22 prior to the trade.
"From the way I'm viewing it with the draft capital that we moved to acquire him is that we moved up, let's just say four spots, and we traded up there and we got him," said Beane. "And we know the player. It's just a more proven thing right now."
Beane also said he felt to land a receiver prospect that could potentially match what Diggs could provide immediately, he thought he'd need to pay a higher price than he did to Minnesota, because he believed he'd need to land one of the top two wide receiver talents in the entire class.
"I just felt like it was going to be really hard, unless I traded up really high to find a guy that I know could walk in, day one, and be ready to roll," said Beane.
2. How quickly things changed for Bills amid Covid-19 outbreak
Knowing how demanding the job of an NFL GM can be, Brandon Beane, though he was aware of the news reports in late February about the coronavirus, still had his main focus on his job and organizing the pre-draft responsibilities of his college scouting staff while at the NFL combine.
A week later it changed in a blink of an eye.
"We're at the combine what five, six weeks ago, and I don't think anybody saw this coming this fast at all," said Beane. "It seemed like it was a distant problem. We go to the combine one week and then I was traveling to pro days and I was at Clemson, and literally things just started changing. Not by the hour, but by the minute.
"We went from going to pro days to three hours later I was getting all my scouts off the road and trying to figure out how I was going to get back home. And it just kept changing.
"I know everybody's ready to get back to normal, but this is bigger than sports, and we've all got to do the right thing and social distance and flatten the curve and all the things that everybody's saying to do and as hard as it is. I think it'll pay off in the end and, and I look forward to that day when we get past it."
3. Planning offseason program contingencies
With the pandemic shuttering NFL facilities for the interim, it's likely that teams' offseason conditioning programs that begin in just a couple of weeks will be either postponed or wiped off the calendar. The same possibility exists for OTA practices in May.
Knowing those are possible scenarios, Beane and head coach Sean McDermott have been hard at work preparing contingency plans for any kind of shortened offseason for the team.
"I'm just taking it one day at a time," said Beane. "But we're going to be ready for all scenarios. Sean and I have had meetings with coaches, personnel, our football ops, all sorts of people just planning for whatever hand we're dealt, and I think that's the best we can all do no matter what our profession is."
Beane said he and McDermott have been conducting weekly meetings remotely with various people from their sports science and medical teams, as well as their strength and conditioning departments.
"We've talked about, what if we don't have an offseason program? What are programs that when we're allowed to connect with our players virtually that we can get to them," said Beane. "Just all the different things that we have to plan for with the unknowns right now. We've got to be ready to conduct some type of offseason program, whether it's remote or not. We still have to plan for, even if we don't have an offseason program, to go to training camp at some point and be ready to roll. And so the challenge within our organization is to find a competitive advantage. All 32 teams are dealing with this unknown. And Sean and I are not wired to sit still. We're trying to find ways (around it).
"We're taking a positive approach to this then we're going to come out stronger. On the other side, and I think that's the only way you can lead."
Scroll through to view the latest updates on Buffalo's reported additions to the roster through free agency.
4. Draft day operations are TBD
The NFL draft is less than three weeks away and for now conducting normal draft preparations for the college scouting department at One Bills Drive is not an option. But what about on draft day itself?
Beane said there have been all kinds of different rumors as to what NFL clubs will be allowed to do concerning their draft day operations.
"They're still going through some things as to what the setup is going to be," he said. "I know there's a lot of things floating around out there some people saying it's 10 people. Some people saying it's two people.
"I think by the end of this week or Monday, we're going to have a final answer of where our draft will be. But we've got options if we can't do it at the facility."
Beane said he believes conducting normal draft day operations in their draft room at the team facility is still a potential option, albeit with fewer people on hand, but insisted he and his staff will be ready for whatever is or is not permitted by the league.
"We'll be ready, wherever they tell us," he said. "If we've got to draft from my car we'll draft there and we'll get it done."
5. Patriots still division champs until proven otherwise
Buffalo's personnel boss hasn't addressed the media since before free agency, so seeing all that has unfolded in the division has been eye opening. The biggest news of course is the departure of Tom Brady as he did not re-sign with New England and is now a Tampa Bay Buccaneer.
When asked if he thinks it's fair to see many pundits labeling the Bills the favorite to win the AFC East, Beane dismissed the thought.
"New England's still going to be very good," he said. "You look at what Bill Belichick did 2008. They were 11-5 with Matt Cassel at the helm. So I think it's funny, and comical that people are writing them off and labeling whether it's us or another team as the team to beat. The team to beat, as I see it, is the Patriots and until somebody beats them.
"They are the team to beat as long as Bill Belichick is there. You're talking about, probably the greatest head coach of all time. So, until we beat them we've done nothing."