The curtain has closed on the 2022 season, but it's already starting to open for the 2023 season.
While the 2022 season was filled with success, it was "not the success that we all want which is to win the Super Bowl" according to head coach Sean McDermott. So, McDermott's message to his team during the season-ending meetings was to learn from this season so they're better equipped to make a run at the Super Bowl when next season rolls around.
"The journey continues, and we won't stop until we get there," McDermott said. "And that's the vision moving forward ... Extremely proud of how far this organization has come, but not satisfied."
Bills QB Josh Allen agreed that mentality is a driving force for the team.
"We want to win a Super Bowl. That's our goal. That's our mindset every time we step out on the field," Allen said. "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 and set out to accomplish what we want."
From the outside looking in, Allen's offseason QB Coach Jordan Palmer and NFL QB Kyle Allen are both confident that the Super Bowl window for the Bills is still open. The reason why Palmer and Allen believe edge rusher Von Miller wanted to become a Buffalo Bill and why Rob Gronkowski debated coming out of retirement to play in Buffalo also explains why they still have faith in the Bills.
"Any year that Josh Allen is playing, has two legs, two arms, they're in it and they're open," Palmer said on The Room. "Between Josh, Brandon Beane the general manager, between just Buffalo being a hard place to play at … the community, the culture, that locker room."
"If Josh is on the roster, they got a shot to win the Super Bowl," Kyle Allen added.
Next season will look different for every player whether they're hitting the free agency market, will be back in Buffalo, or are itching to return to the field after an injury sidelined them last season. For the 2022 rookies, their first NFL season is in the books and their focus is set on preparing for the transition from year one to year two.
"Faster, stronger, and watch and learn from tape as well," WR Khalil Shakir said. "Trying to expand my knowledge on defenses as far as getting more of a better feel for the game as well and things like that. So, it's going to be a big jump from the first to the second year. Just kind of make sure that I focus in on a lot of those deep key details as well the small details as far as within my route running and cleaning things up with that as well."
"We got roles for all of 'em," GM Brandon Beane said on the 2022 rookies. "I think going forward, explaining the cap situation, that we're going to count on all these guys to be even more involved as we get into 2023."
Speaking of the cap situation, reconstructing the roster to fit within the set in stone number is high on the GM's to-do list. Since Beane last spoke to the media, the NFL announced that the 2023 salary cap would be a record $224.8 million per club which is a $16.6 million leap from last season.
With expected changes coming to the roster, Beane's eyes and creative mind are focused on how to strengthen the team in the months leading up to the season opener. Between draft picks, potential free agents, and returning players, he is looking to find a role for everybody so he can put as strong of a team as he can together come September.
"It's back at it," Beane said. "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."
The culture in Buffalo that Palmer and Allen were referring to is why a handful of free agents would like to be back in a Bills uniform next year. But with the world of free agency comes the business side of the sport too.
"Hopefully I'll be a Bill," DT Jordan Phillips said. "It's a good culture, the coaches have a lot of confidence in me. I like the guys that I work with, my kids like it here, family likes it here. Seems like the place to be."
"Obviously, I would love to be back here," WR Jamison Crowder added. "This is probably, out of my eight years, probably like the best organization I've been a part of, I can say that. I think that the way they do things around here, they do things the right way, so I appreciate that."
Even with the uncertainty surrounding the roster, Beane acknowledged that the team has a lot of bright spots that will be returning next year starting with their quarterback.
"It's a quarterback league and we got one of the better ones in the league, and he's just going to continue to get better because he's going to see more and go through it," Beane said. "But we've got a lot of players all over the board without going through them. I think we got a good building. I think we've got people that understand what it takes and so we're a long way from where we were when we got here, but we know there's work to do."
Regardless of what the roster looks like next season, those on it will go back to the drawing board and make necessary changes to get over the hump with the fresh slate that's ahead of them.
One of those bright spots who will be back in red and blue next year is Von Miller, who has been lifting his teammates up since their playoff exit. The two-time Super Bowl Champion is quick to remind every player in the Bills locker room that they still have the potential to earn that same title next season and in the years to come.
"In six months, we're getting ready to get back and try to find a new Super Bowl champion, so we can't let that loss create a loss for us in the offseason or let it carry over into this next season," Miller said. "We've just got to keep pushing, man … There is no other place, no other team that I would want to be on right now. I'm still super excited about our window here with the Buffalo Bills. I'm still excited for our shot. We didn't get it this year, but better days are coming for sure."
The 12-year vet is eager to line back up with his teammates again next season after he ended the 2022 season on the sidelines rehabbing an ACL injury. Miller shared that he's hopeful of returning to the field and when he does, the pursuit of the Super Bowl is back on.
"I want my teammates to experience winning a Super Bowl," Miller said. "I want that bad for this organization. I want that bad for my teammates. It's a beautiful thing. And when I signed here with the Buffalo Bills, I signed here because I had multiple opportunities to do that. Not just this one year. We lost. It was tough man, but I'm excited to see what we do in 2023."
Scroll to view the best photos of Buffalo Bills players from the 2022 Pro Bowl Games practice at Allegiant Stadium.