1 - How Brandon Beane plans to use cap space
Buffalo general manager Brandon Beane enters the 2019 offseason with reportedly north of $80 million in cap space and a number of holes to fill.
Coming off a 6-10 season in which the Bills’ young core showed flashes of brilliance, Beane realizes that the moves made during the upcoming free agency period will be critical to the team’s immediate and future success. He and his colleagues have already started to construct a “free agency board,” ranking potentially-available players based on a variety of different traits.
“We’ve been watching, going back and forth [between draft and free agency],” Beane told One Bills Live host John Murphy during last week’s Senior Bowl. “Our pro scouts are back there right now. They’re setting… we do a draft board for pros, too, and we have different grades.
“We put all sorts of tags on them, the things that we know about them, character. Just like we do in the draft, we’re trying to find out as much as we can about these guys through the different resources we have around the league.”
Though Buffalo ranks near the top of the league in available cap space, Beane does not plan on throwing the money around. He wants to keep the Bills in a healthy cap situation, leaving the team with enough money to re-sign its young core once their rookie deals expire.
“That’s just the philosophy that I think works best - to draft, develop, and sign your own,” Beane said. “We have cap room, and we’re going to use it to try and fill some holes. But we also have to be wise with our money so that when these guys that are headed into years three and four, Tre’Davious [White] and that class, Matt Milano and all those guys, when they come up, that we have money to spend. We can’t just go and spend all of our cap money now, or we’ll be back in the same spot.”
2 - Anthony Barr reflects on Josh Allen’s hurdle
The play will perhaps go down as Josh Allen’s “Welcome to the NFL” moment.
He and his Bills had jumped out to a shocking 17-point lead over the heavily favored Vikings in a Week 3 contest. With roughly two minutes remaining in the first quarter, Allen dropped back in the pocket, looking to add to Buffalo’s already sizable lead. When he couldn’t find an open receiver, the rookie decided to take off, tucking the ball and running up the middle of the field.
Once he reached midfield, he was met by Minnesota linebacker Anthony Barr, a 6-foot-5, 255-pound defender who is no stranger to hitting opposing quarterbacks. When Barr saw the rookie signal-caller running toward him in open space, he couldn’t believe that Allen wasn’t looking to slide.
He was also in disbelief when he realized that Allen had jumped over his head.
“You get got sometimes,” Barr told The Athletic’s Tim Graham.
“I thought he was going to try to run me over and was like, ‘This is crazy.’ Then he jumped over me, and I was like, ‘Well, that’s crazy, too.’”
The play became the talk of the NFL for a short time, a highlight of Buffalo’s 27-6 win over the Vikings. It was also the first time that Allen put his elite athleticism on display, something that became a more prevalent part of his game as the season progressed. Allen finished his rookie campaign with 631 rushing yards. He also led all NFL quarterbacks in rushing touchdowns with eight.
3 - NFL.com dubs Matt Milano Bills’ ‘unsung hero’
After showing signs of promise in his rookie campaign, linebacker Matt Milano emerged as a defensive cornerstone for Buffalo in the 2018 season.
His innate nose for the ball is perhaps what impressed fans most. At one point midway through the season, the 24-year-old led the NFL in takeaways with six (three interceptions, three fumble recoveries). He was a playmaker for the Bills, someone who consistently came up with momentum-shifting plays in addition to being reliable in coverage and against the run.
Milano started 13 games in his sophomore season, totaling 78 tackles. He injured his leg on a fourth-quarter goal-line stand in Week 14, an ailment that kept him out for the rest of the campaign.
Though his breakout season came to a premature end, the energy that he brought to Buffalo’s defense was undeniable. According to NFL.com writer Nick Shook, Milano did not receive enough national attention in the 2018 season. He dubbed Milano as Buffalo’s “unsung hero” in a recent article, even backing a colleague that compared the 24-year-old to a five-time All-Pro.
“Every time I watched the Bills in 2018, I couldn't help but notice how effective their defense was, especially when No. 58 was on the field,” Shook wrote. “The former fifth-round pick didn't have freakish athleticism or star power, but he was consistently excellent. Around The NFL's Chris Wesseling characterized him perfectly during a midseason podcast: Luke Kuechly Lite.
“The second-year pro landed on injured reserve after breaking his leg in Week 14, and his absence was noticeable the rest of the way. As the heart and soul of the Buffalo defense, he should receive much more love going forward.”
Follow along on game day as Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams takes the field at the 2019 Pro Bowl.