It's time to turn our attention to the 2023 season now that the Super Bowl champions of the 2022 season have been crowned. That's right, all 32 teams are back to an 0-0 record as they begin to build toward Week 1.
We've got quite a lot of time before the games begin, so as we await the official start date of the 2023 season here are a few pressing questions for the Buffalo Bills.
1. What's ahead on the NFL calendar?
From free agency to the NFL Draft, here are some key dates to know this offseason.
February 21: Clubs may designate Franchise or Transition Players until 4:00 p.m. ET on March 7
February 28-March 6: NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN
March 15: Start of the 2023 League Year and Free Agency begins at 4:00 p.m. ET
March 26-29: Annual League Meeting at The Biltmore in Phoenix, AZ
April 17: Clubs with returning Head Coaches may begin offseason workout programs
April 27-29: 2023 NFL Draft in Kansas City, MO
2. New faces in the AFC East?
Winning the AFC East is always one of Buffalo's goals each season. The Bills have won the division each of the last three years, but the team understands it's only going to get tougher due to the increase in talent within the division.
"You evaluate the whole thing, the injuries, all that, you evaluate everything," Sean McDermott said looking back on the season. "And we have to do that. You look around the division. The division is improving, right? The gap is closing as far as that's concerned."
As the Dolphins, Jets and Patriots build up their roster in hopes of contending for the division title, they've hired some new coaches to help them get there.
It has been reported that the Dolphins will add Vic Fangio to their coaching staff as their new defensive coordinator. Fangio spent the 2022 season with the Philadelphia Eagles as a defensive consultant. The DC was the head coach of the Broncos from 2019-2021 and was the defensive coordinator for the Bears from 2015-2018. Fangio is known for producing top five defenses and has done so with multiple teams.
The Jets have hired Nathaniel Hackett as their new offensive coordinator. Hackett was the head coach of the Broncos in 2022. Prior to that, he was the offensive coordinator for the Packers from 2019-2021 and the Jaguars from 2016-2018. Hackett has coached top 10 offenses in three different seasons as offensive coordinator.
The Patriots have hired Bill O'Brien as their new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. O'Brien spent the last two seasons with the University of Alabama as their offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. He also had a previous stint with the Patriots from 2008-2001 where he had multiple roles, including offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach and wide receivers coach.
3. Lots of turnover in free agency?
One of the next biggest events on the NFL calendar is free agency, which begins on Wednesday, March 15 at 4:00 p.m. ET. The Bills currently have 20 unrestricted free agents and three restricted free agents on their roster. That means there could be a decent amount of roster turnover come March.
"Every year is a new challenge," Sean McDermott said. "When I got here in 2017, we had a ton of free agents, and we also had very little cap room and didn't have all the draft picks. So we found a way through that. We'll find a way through this. That's what we do. And that's the vision moving forward."
For many on the roster that aren't free agents, it's always tough watching teammates move on to play elsewhere. That's why several are hoping the Bills are able to re-sign a good amount.
"Naturally there's gonna be turnover, that's just the way that it is," Von Miller said. "But I think we got a lot of guys coming back. It's always gonna be turnover. But the guys that we do get back, the guys that we know guaranteed are coming back next year, I'm excited to run with those guys."
Buffalo's big free agency splash last year was Miller, so general manager Brandon Beane said don't expect anything big this year because of the work they need to do to get under the cap.
"We're not trying to go all in in one or two seasons, but we'll be creative, we'll do things," Beane said of how the roster could look this year. "We may have to rework a few contracts. It's not that we're not going to do that. But I also don't want to, in two years, be a hundred million over the cap, like we've seen teams have to do. I'm not looking to do that either."
4. What will the draft look like?
After the dust settles from free agency, all eyes will be on the 2023 NFL Draft. That'll take place in Kansas City, Mo. this year and go from April 27 till April 29.
As it stands right now, the Bills have six picks in the draft with their first being No. 27 overall. They will also have selections in the second, third, fourth, fifth (from Arizona) and sixth round.
Knowing the Bills will have to do some work to get under the salary cap, this year's draft will be very important for the scouting department and coaching staff.
"We gotta hit on draft picks," Brandon Beane said. "We gotta find low-cost free agents that can find roles, whether it's a key backup, a solid starter, whatever it is. And so, it'll be on me and our scouting staff to make the right moves."
Beane likes to view free agency as a time to replace the "needs" on the roster, which sets them up for the ability to go after "wants" in the draft. The last time the Bills had the 27th pick in the first round of the draft, Buffalo selected Tre'Davious White out of LSU.
"If it was college, I'd love to get as many five stars as we can," Beane shared. "It's the cap, it's the draft. We'll have to work through that. What can we get? What pieces can we add? We'll lose free agents on both sides of the ball. That's just reality."
5. New season, new found hope?
With the end of the 2022 season comes the beginning of the 2023 season. It's okay to be in your feels a little knowing everything the Bills went through in 2022 and the reality that it'll take a whole lot of work to contend for the AFC East title and a spot in the playoffs.
Hopefully there's space for hope in the emotions of letting last season go and looking to a new year. There sure is a lot to be hopeful for as the Bills begin to put their roster together for 2023. The Bills have one heck of a GM, head coach and quarterback. Throw Von Miller in there and there's a lot to be excited about for this next season.
"I'm super excited for year two with the Buffalo Bills, I'm super excited to line back up and do it all over again," Von Miller said. "I'm super excited to get back to Rochester and go through training camp and to be healthy again. I'm super excited, man. Just because we lost to the Bengals, it doesn't diminish the type of team we have.
"It doesn't diminish our position in this league. We have a really good team, and our window is still open. Brighter days are definitely ahead."
To achieve those brighter days, the team knows it's already time to get back to work.
"It's back at it," Brandon Beane said. "And let's be honest, I'm excited that there's not going to be finger pointing. We're all going to work through this, and we're going to work on answers for 2023 and hopefully get the outcome we're looking for next year."
"We want to win a Super Bowl," Josh Allen said. "That's our goal. That's our mindset every time we step out on the field. Each and every year, that'll never change. It sucks feeling like you're close and not being able to accomplish it. It's been the last three years with a very similar feeling. We've got to continue to push forward and find a way to get over this hump."