The 2021 free agency period is less than 10 days away and Brandon Beane and his staff have been preparing for the offseason frenzy that happens every year.
Beane was a recent guest on a couple of podcasts and shows and talked about multiple topics including this upcoming free agency period and some of the lessons he's learned while working in the NFL. One thing that he made perfectly clear while on PFF's The Cris Collinsworth Podcast featuring Richard Sherman is that he and Sean McDermott are always going to do what's in the best interest of the Buffalo Bills organization.
The pandemic will cause the 2021 salary cap to be lower than expected a final number has yet to be set by the NFL yet. Earlier this year, the NFL announced the salary floor would be $180 million.
Beane and his staff will have to look at the Bills current roster and evaluate how to keep all the players they want to under a reduced cap. The Bills general manager noted that they will have to get creative with contract reductions, restructurings, and other different incentives to push the earnings more into the future. But it is important to Beane not to lose too many players who fit Buffalo's culture and to add to that through the draft.
"So, we're going to look at all avenues to try and not lose too many players and still add [talent]," Beane stated. "Then obviously the draft is going to be very important not only for us but a lot of teams this year. Finding that cheap labor and not missing on those picks."
One of the young draft picks from the 2020 Draft received high praise from Beane. During the interview, Sherman asked Beane who on the roster is a star on the rise and he responded with Dane Jackson. The Bills final pick in last year's draft didn't see the field much in 2020 but when he did, he made an impact. In only five games, Jackson had one interception, five passes defensed and a fumble recovery. Beane applauded the young player's instincts and awareness on the football field.
"He's a young man that we believe will be able to compete to start next year," Beane told Richard Sherman. "We're obviously going to bring in competition for him but he's a guy we got high hopes for as a young player that showed us that it wasn't too big for him."
Besides the cornerback position, another position group that Beane talked about was the offensive line and what their starting front five might look like in 2021. While Beane didn't share exactly who would be coming back – like any good GM would – he did note the importance of having five solid guys upfront to protect Josh Allen at all times.
"We got some pieces, Cris, that we'll have to see if we can get back," Beane stated. "If not, to your point, it's very important for us to protect Josh Allen, first and foremost, and secondly, try and get that running game going."
It's very rare for an NFL team to bring back completely the same roster from one season to the next. Even though teams would like to, there simply isn't enough money for that to be a reality. That leads to the front office making tough decisions about players who have helped the team succeed in the past. Beane was on Boardroom's Game Plan show and talked with Jordan Schultz about how to win in the NFL and he touched on the best way to have those tough conversations with players.
"Be straightforward and be honest with people," Beane explained to Schultz. "That's one of the things that I've learned through watching other people and then how I would want to be treated. Delivering bad news, nobody wants to do that. But the best way to do it is to be honest, as painful as that can be."
Scroll through to view photos of some of the top prospects that some draft analysts have projected the Bills to take in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Another lesson that Beane learned during his time as general manager in Carolina is that a player has to fit with the culture of the football team no matter how talented they are. That is one of the core values that Beane and McDermott have built this team on and is something they always keep in mind every offseason.
"One of the lessons that I learned is talent is talent, but you also have to make sure you have the right people and the right leaders to keep your culture strong," Beane told Collinsworth and Sherman. "One bad apple or a couple of guys can really uproot what you built. … I think Sean and I are on the same page here, that we obviously want very talented players but it's very important for us to have the right fits that fit in this Buffalo community."