Bills general manager Brandon Beane met with the media over Zoom on Tuesday ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft. Beane touched on their first round pick, the option of trading up or down, Josh Allen contract talks and more. Here are five things we learned from his time with the media.
1. Could a Josh Allen contract extension come soon?
The name Josh Allen and the phrase contract extension are two things said together quite frequently as of late. Allen made a splash in his third season by scoring 46 touchdowns while completing 69 percent of his passes. With the Bills quarterback heading into his fourth season and the fifth-year option looming, what does general manager Brandon Beane plan to do? Per Beane, the quick answer is nothing will happen until after the draft. It's the same case for linebacker Tremaine Edmunds who will begin his fourth NFL season this year.
"We've had some discussions, but really that'll be front and center as soon as the draft is done," Beane said. "The hard part this year is going to be the cap has gone down. I don't know exactly where it's going to be next year, but probably not a huge increase."
The low salary cap number this year into the possibility of next year is one thing to consider when talking about the contract extensions of two players who won't be cheap. Beane explained it's not optimal to pick their option up if he doesn't plan on keeping them in Buffalo for a while.
"Josh's number is in the 20s because of a Pro Bowl," Beane said of the millions Allen can expect in a new deal. "Tremaine has made a couple Pro Bowls, he's pushing 13 (million). You can't really be flexible with those cap numbers. So we've got to make sure if we pick them both up, that we're going to have close to 35 million space in next year's cap. It's not an ideal scenario to pick them both up and not extend them."
Beane shared that he has spoken to Allen as well as one of Allen's representatives. He stressed that the deal has to work out for both sides.
"Josh wants to be here," Beane said. "That gives me hope we'll get something done at some point. I can't guarantee you it will be this year. But the good thing is we do have time."
2. What can be expected of pick No. 30?
In the 2019 NFL Draft, the Bills had the ninth overall pick. Last year they were slated for No. 22, but traded it for a game-changer in Stefon Diggs. This year, they move down even more to the end of the first round at No. 30 thanks to a successful 2020 season.
Will a flashy player still be available at No. 30? Is drafting that late in the first round a bad thing?
No fear. According to Brandon Beane, picking late in the first round is a good problem to have.
"I wish we were picking 32," Beane said with a smile. "That's the goal."
So maybe we just need to reconfigure how we look at No. 30. Beane has his mind set at glass half full when it comes to the end of the first round.
"In theory, you're picking at the top of next round," Beane explained. "We're three picks away from the top of the second round. So a lot of times when you're coming to the end of the round, we're either going to be picking at the bottom of one or picking out of the second round, just depending on how it falls."
It's good to remember that every team's board is different and every team evaluates players differently.
"We stack the board the way we see it," Beane said. "We don't worry about where we're picking. Some rounds we've got a decent amount of players, some round we may have 15 players."
If the Bills choose to stay at No. 30, that means there is someone available who the scouting department believes will fit into Buffalo's system and has a high enough grade.
But if the Bills are selecting that late in the first round, should we expect a player to make an immediate impact once he gets on the field or a developmental player who may take a season to grow?
"It's going to depend on which position it is," Beane. "I do think there are some positions if it worked out that way that maybe not definitely start, but you could say, 'This guy's got a shot.' I think there's some other guys we have on the board where we're going, `This guy's one heck of a player, but he's not going to start Day 1, but we will count on him. Maybe in a year he's going to be the starter.'"
Knowing what the Bills have in place and building on their 13-3 season that led them to the AFC Championship game, Beane is okay with not selecting someone who may start right away based on how the board may fall.
"We'll think long term more than short term," Beane said about the impact they're hoping their first round pick will make. "But we'll see how it goes. It'll be a good player."
3. To trade up or to trade down?
It's an age-old question when it comes to the NFL Draft, trade up or down? It's a question that's impossible to answer when you're sitting at the bottom of the first round knowing several things can happen when 29 picks take place before yours. With all this said, you better believe Beane and his scouting department have gone through scenarios where they trade up or out of the first round. They'll be ready for whatever comes their way.
If the Bills decide to trade up in the first round, they'd have to be willing to give up picks to go get that player. They'd have to weigh if that player is worth the picks they'd lose.
"Speaking hypothetically, it there's a guy on our board where we go, 'Man, there's a guy 10 spots away at 20.' And we're going, 'Man, this guy really fits us. He's everything we want. He's going to make a big impact now and long term.' You'd have to talk about it and see what it costs. And then obviously, you'd have to have the team willing to make that move with you.
"We won't be afraid to go up. We won't be afraid to pick at 30."
Beane said if it doesn't make sense to move up in the first round, it may make sense to move up in later rounds due to the fact that they wouldn't have to give up as many picks.
"Maybe in some of the mid to later rounds, it makes more sense," Beane explained. "You're not having to give up as much, especially if you're looking at your board and you're going, 'Let's look at the sixth round, how many of these guys based on what we've already taken and what we know have a legit shot to make the 53?'"
If the Bills get to No. 30 and their board doesn't look great for the rest of the first round, then the option to move out is on the table if another team is willing to move up.
"If our first round's completely wiped out of players, and maybe the top of the two is wiped out also, then you're really trying to trade back to maximize your value," Beane added. "Doesn't mean you'll be able to do it, but that's when you would consider doing that. The nice thing about the first round pick is you have that fifth-year option, it's that extra year to protect you."
At the end of the day, no one needs to jump on the trading up or down train just yet because the first round is bound to have at least a couple of surprises.
"We'll just do kind of what makes sense with how the board falls with each pick," Beane said. "We're so far down there, there's going to be a lot of unknowns, especially once the quarterbacks go."
4. How should the Bills approach Day 2 of the NFL Draft?
This year the Bills have seven total draft picks—one in the first round (30), one in the second round (61), one in the third round (93), two in the fifth round (161 and 174), one in the sixth round (213) and one in the seventh round (236).
Friday night will consist of the second and third round where the Bills are slated to have two picks. The players available after the first round were not selected within the first 32 picks for a reason, so what challenges are presented when trying to draft a player who can contribute out of the first round?
Beane looks at Day 2 as one that's full of opportunity rather than challenges.
"Those are still premium picks," Beane said of the second and third round. "It's probably a more exciting day than Day 1 in a lot of respects. You're still hoping to get two players. Maybe they're starters, maybe they're not, but you're hoping they're vital contributors, if not immediately, then through their career depending on who they're backing up and what position it is.
"So it's very important for us to hit on those. We try not to take crazy risks in those rounds."
The Bills GM explained after every round it gets tougher to make a selection. But, the board also starts to take shape after the first round regardless of if it's looking full or empty.
"That's what's cool after Round 1 is seeing what's been taken off the board and looking at what's there as you enter Friday," Beane said. "Are you going to want to start moving up? Is our board starting to get cleaned out? Or are we going, `Man, there's a lot of guys here. We can really be patient and get a guy, or even move back and pick up a later pick?'"
5. The latest on the offseason program as it relates to the Bills
The NFL offseason began on April 19 with the first phase set to last four weeks until May 14. Per the NFL, the offseason will be nine weeks long and go until June 18. Phase one consists of virtual meetings and two hours per day based on the team's direction. During this phase there will be no on-field drills or work with the coaches. Players can access the weight room, but limits still remain in place. Some teams have publicly announced via the NFLPA that they will not attend in-person voluntary workouts.
When it comes to the Bills, Beane said players are still figuring everything out. He added that the captains have been in contact with him and Bills head coach Sean McDermott.
"Our guys are still working through who's going to come in and when and we do have some participation," Beane explained. "Obviously it's not like most years, but Sean and I have been in communication with them, with at least the captains and the leaders. They've done a great job of communicating with the group, and then kind of communicating back to us where their comfort level is on things. That's all we can ask.
"Sean and I are very appreciative, these guys have done a great job of communicating with the group, and then letting us know. And also, allowing us to give them some insight into our thoughts on things. That's what you want."