Fan Mailbag: How will the Bills fill roster holes in the offseason? 

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It’s a question that Buffalo’s front office will be tackling in a myriad of ways this offseason. There are a number of positional holes the Bills must fill in these upcoming winter and spring months. And the Bills will likely need to fill them using every avenue available to them (free agency, draft, trade, player release).

Not surprisingly, it’s a common question coming from Bills fans eager to see what the team can do to load up for what should be a promising 2019 if the right moves are made.

As most of you know your questions are always welcome @ChrisBrownBills

1 – From @DarrowJeffrey: In your opinion, can we fix our problems in free agency alone, hoping enough good talent gets released, saving the draft for best players not need.

CB: It is my hope that some veteran talent does get released leading up to the free agency period because the pickings are relatively slim at Buffalo’s positions of need, namely wide receiver and offensive line.

Knowing the Bills have three unrestricted free agents from their starting offensive line at season’s end, they will need to venture into free agency to address one or two of those positions.

There isn’t a plethora of proven receiving talent either that matches up with what I believe the Bills are looking for, durable, team-oriented receiver that has a body of work that demonstrates consistency and reliability week-to-week, and still has a good four to six years left in their career.

Buffalo’s personnel department will be digging deep in the free agent pool knowing they have to fortify the offense with some upgrades, but they can’t fill all the holes in free agency. They will need the draft to address depth and potentially find challengers for a starting role or two.

2 – From @tnfp69: Do you think the Bills should not go after older vet (Only have a small window of time in there good left) or look to go after players upside that is much longer?

CB: This is going to be an interesting thing to watch in the offseason. Not only who they sign, but the career profile of free agent signees will be intriguing. Do they only target free agents who have at least four to six good years left in their career, or do they make an exception or two and get a 31 or 32-year old proven vet, who has been relatively durable?

To this point, and it’s a small sample size, the vast majority of their free agent additions have been under 30 years of age unless they were players signed to one-year contracts.

I get the sense that if GM Brandon Beane does make a long-term commitment to a free agent (3-plus years) it’s going to be made on a player they believe can successfully play out that contract. Beane made it very clear that they do not want to spend foolishly in free agency after biting the bullet this year to get out from under a bad cap situation left by the previous regime.

To me that means they’ll not only spend wisely, but also invest in players that can give them a good return on the contract they hand out. Knowing in free agency you generally have to overpay, they want to try to maximize the return as much as possible.

That to me means acquiring a player who can productively play out the life of his contract.

3 – From @BrandonJC: What is Josh Allen’s ceiling in the NFL? Has the answer changed as the bills progressed through the season?

CB: I don’t think I’m breaking any new ground here in saying that his physical abilities give him limitless potential. The only thing that can hold him back is his processing of the game.

What’s exciting about that is he is a student of the game and by all accounts is a smart player. I think most who watched Buffalo’s games down the stretch saw a weekly improvement in the way he was processing the game pre-snap.

It gave offensive coordinator Brian Daboll the confidence to give him checks at the line of scrimmage, which he made use of at times. The most recent example was the back-shoulder throw touchdown pass to Robert Foster.

That was a check at the line. Allen confirmed for me that it was a check and that he saw a zero-coverage blitz coming (meaning everyone is manned up in coverage) and everyone else is coming after him.

So he checked the call at the line pre-snap and threw hot to Foster for a TD. It’s a small example of his development and a very encouraging sign.

I guess that’s a long way of saying his ceiling is very high. Only time will tell how high.

As for whether the ceiling changed, it probably changed in the minds of a lot of people as the season wore on, but knowing his elite physical tools, combined with his competitive nature, work ethic, smarts and desire to be great, it’s certainly exciting to think about what he can become when some additional talent is put around him.

4 – From @BrianRossignol1: Can the Buffalo organization or someone on behalf of the team reach out to anyone anywhere at any time in regard to a coaching job or are there written and unwritten rules?

CB: If a coach is under contract with another club, the Bills must ask that club for permission to interview said coach, and usually it must be for a job that is deemed to be a promotion.

The only exception to that is when a coaching staff under a fired head coach is still tied to a club because they’re under contract and have not been “let go.” In those cases, teams must still ask permission to interview, but very often making a lateral move to a similar position is deemed acceptable.

5 – From @frayjay1: Do you feel with the contract for veteran kickers that the bills may try to move on from their kicking specialists?

CB: Stephen Hauschka is entering the final year of his contract and remains one of the most accurate kickers in league history, let alone the league right now. He isn’t going anywhere.

As for punter, as stated in this space before, Buffalo felt they found a quality young punter in Corey Bojorquez, whom they acquired from New England’s practice squad. A shoulder injury suffered by Bojorquez eventually became something that had to be taken care of and he went on injured reserve.

But his play was encouraging, especially for an inexperienced rookie playing his first regular season football on a team that he joined in Week 1.

Bojorquez had a very respectable net punting average of 39.4. His gross average of 45.1 was also encouraging. He only had four touchbacks on 45 punts, forced nine fair catches and had 22 punts downed inside the 20 in just eight games.

Buffalo signed Bojorquez to a three-year contract for a reason. They believe he has a future in this league. It’s my contention that with a full offseason with the Bills, he will perform consistently and blossom under the right coaching.

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