1. Bills culture draws praise from this former NFL executive
Michael Lombardi is a three-time Super Bowl champion as a personnel executive and has worked in football since 1981 where he began at UNLV as a recruiting coordinator. Since then he has served as a top level personnel executive in San Francisco, Oakland, Cleveland (twice), Philadelphia and New England. Lombardi went on One Bills Live to discuss his new book ‘Gridiron Genius: A Master Class in Winning Championships and Building Dynasties in the NFL’ and the developing culture of the Bills.
Lombardi opened up with a statement on the Bills of old.
“You’ve had a great culture with Marv Levy. He built a culture there, and yes Jim Kelly was a great player, and there were things that were revolutionary, and you have a lot of good talent,” he said. “You all played together as a team, you don’t come back from 35-3 at halftime to win with a backup QB if you don’t play as a team.”
Lombardi then focused in on more of the Bills of today and what head coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane have been building. Lombardi is intrigued and encouraged by what McDermott has said, such as the quote he gave when the Bills were struggling earlier this season.
“The culture to me trumps strategy,” McDermott said. “That’s what I believe in wholeheartedly. Doesn’t mean we have choir boys, it means we’ve got guys who love football and do things the right way.”
Lombardi’s response was very encouraging towards the future of Buffalo.
“I’ve liked Sean since the first time I’ve heard him,” said Lombardi. “From what I’ve seen up there and what they’ve done, and Beane as the general manager, they have been able to A: admit mistakes and B: get rid of players that thought it was all about the player and not about the team and putting the team first. I’m going to resonate to anyone like that.
“When people said they had the worst team in football last year and wouldn’t win a game, you knew their culture was going to be strong and be able to endure. They’re not perfect but they’re building something that’s going to last a long time which is ultimately what we want to do. I’ve always liked what Sean says and what Sean has preached, and I like how he has acted and behaved in front of personnel.”
2. Some offseason advice for the Bills from Bleacher Report
There is no plan set in stone for the Bills’ offseason. Coaches and general managers across the league have expressed their intentions to keep their options open on trades and free-agent signings. Before the new NFL calendar year starts on March 13, Bleacher Report’s Maurice Moton spoke to the minds of each team’s top brass on what to do this offseason.
The Bills need to sign and draft offensive linemen. Josh Allen missed four games last season and took 28 sacks during the other 12 games. With John Miller and Jordan Mills on expiring contracts the Bills can have spots open to fill.
Buffalo can acquire veteran offensive linemen, like they already have with Spencer Long, to immediately strengthen Allen’s protection. Daryl Williams, Matt Paradis and Ryan Kalil are all currently set to be available and even more could be with teams buying out and opening up space.
The search for new linemen won’t stop at just free agency. The Bills can have the opportunity to draft a plethora of young, talented linemen at the ninth pick. Buffalo can possibly have an immediate starter if they are able to grab Jonah Williams.
3. How aggressive will Buffalo be in free agency?
Buffalo has a reported nearly $70 million in cap space for free agency, certainly enough to make a splash.
ESPN ranked every team into three categories for this offseason: 1. Aggressive, 2. Active, but not breaking the bank, 3. Not as active as fans might hope. The Bills fell into the second category. The only teams listed as aggressive were the Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Browns and the New York Jets. ESPN's Mike Rodak wrote the following about the Bills.
General manager Brandon Beane has about $80 million in cap space after spending his first two seasons shedding salary and swallowing a huge amount of dead money. That had some fans anticipating a spending spree this offseason, especially to bolster the offense around quarterback Josh Allen, but Beane wrote in a February letter to season-ticket holders that he would be "active" but "calculated" in the free-agent market and prefers to re-sign homegrown players in future years.
Buffalo already signed free-agent offensive lineman Spencer Long to a three-year contract after he was cut by the Jets, and the team figures to continue looking for veteran pieces to add along the offensive line, wide receiver, tight end and potentially cornerback.