1. 3 Takeaways from the NFL owners meeting
The NFL owners met yesterday at the annual league meeting to discuss a variety of topics. Here are a few headlines from yesterday's meeting:
- NFL adds 17*th* regular season game - The owners approved the addition of a 17th regular season game beginning in the 2021 season. The Bills will now host the Washington Football Team at Highmark Stadium for that 17th game. For all the information about this historic moment for the NFL, click here.
- Players can return for workouts starting April 19 - Per this NFL.com report, phase one of the offseason workouts will start on April 19. In previous years, NFL teams with first-year head coaches got a head start on these workouts but this year it will start on the same date for every team. Players will be allowed to work out together in the team's facility in smaller groups. The timing of the future phases of the OTA's are still yet to be announced.
- Plan to have full stadiums in 2021 - After a season that saw limited to no fan attendance around the league because of the pandemic, Roger Goodell announced the plan for the 2021 season is to welcome fans back. Goodell said at the virtual league meeting that, "We want to see every one of our fans back. We expect to have full stadiums in the coming season."
2. Bleacher Report predicts a breakout year for this Bills defensive player
Last offseason, rookies around the league had a bigger uphill battle to climb in adjusting to life in the NFL because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now with a year under their belt, they can take this full offseason to be better prepared for year two in the NFL. For AJ Epenesa, he started to feel more comfortable as the season went on with all the repetition and help from veteran leadership on the team. Bleacher Report NFL writer Brent Sobleski picked one player from every team who he thinks will have a breakout season in 2021. For the Bills, he chose Epenesa and explained why:
Buffalo Bills: DE A.J. Epenesa
A year ago, Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison—who are 32 and 33 years old—played the majority of the Buffalo Bills' defensive end snaps. As the campaign progressed, second-round rookie A.J. Epenesa contributed more. He had received first-round buzz for his play in the Big Ten, though poor scouting combine testing numbers pushed him into the draft's second day.
"I'm very pleased with how he played the second half of the year," Bills general manager Brandon Beane told reporters. "... I think he's got a high ceiling, and it will be a big offseason for him."
Two of Epenesa's best games came during his only start in Week 17 and the AFC Championship Game against the Kansas City Chiefs. That upward trend should continue.
3. ESPN posed the biggest question to be answered for the Bills post-free agency
It's been two weeks since the start of the new league year and the focus is shifting from free agency to the NFL Draft as we approach the month of April. The Bills were able to re-sign many of their own free agents as well as sign key players to add more depth and value to the roster. ESPN recapped the big signings for all 32 teams and posed the biggest question yet to be answered this offseason.
Marquee signings: Matt Milano, LB; Darryl Williams, OT; Jon Feliciano, G; Emmanuel Sanders, WR; Mitchell Trubisky, QB
Offseason goals: The Bills entered the offseason as the AFC's runners-up and were intent on running it back in 2021 with largely the same roster. General manager Brandon Beane cleared cap space through a series of restructures and releases and was eventually able to re-sign their marquee free agents while shoring up a few areas that needed reinforcements.
Biggest question to be answered: Where does Buffalo see its remaining weakness? The Bills' pass rush still needs improvement as they look to take down Kansas City. Tight end, cornerback and running back also continue to be areas of need. If the Bills see their roster as championship-ready, they might eschew drafting for value and instead take instant-impact players later this month. -- Marcel Louis-Jacques