There will be two head coaching changes in the AFC East this offseason. One has already been made, coincidentally with former Miami head coach Adam Gase, heading north to now coach the Jets.
Many Bills fans this week were wondering whether Gase going to the Jets is good or bad for the Bills?
Change can often be good, but in the NFL good rarely changes a situation for the better right away. We cover the change in New York, Shaq Lawson’s fifth-year option, free agency and veteran FA LB Thomas Davis.
Your questions can always be sent to me here - @ChrisBrownBills
1 – From @ajohnson2693: Do you think that the hire of Adam Gase to the Jets is a good thing for the Bills? Personally, I think it helps Buffalo, due to the fact that we’ve had his number the past two years
CB: I do see it as beneficial to the Bills, just because it’s a new coach starting over in New York. It’s very hard to get all the ducks in a row and win consistently that first season. Now Gase was able to do that in his first season in Miami, when the Dolphins made the playoffs, but things fell apart after that.
I think Gase will make Sam Darnold a quality QB in this league, but his problem is enacting discipline with a team. More than one Miami reporter has told me that there were multiple issues in the Dolphins locker room and that the team concept wasn’t effectively implemented by Gase.
Maybe he’ll learn from that and do better in New York, but it’ll be interesting to see if he can be as effective a leader as he is an offensive mind.
2 – From @mclennon99: What are your thoughts on whether Brandon Beane will pick up the 5th year option on Shaq Lawson's rookie contract? Lawson finally played like a first round pick this past season but still has a history of getting injured plus that 5th year will cost the Bills $9M. Tough choice!
CB: I think the logical approach here is to pre-emptively sign him to a reasonably-priced extension. Lawson was one of the team’s most improved players and he fully bought in to what it takes to be a successful professional.
He’s never going to be a speed rusher, but he’s a good power rusher and when he doesn’t get to the QB he’s very effective in batting down passes. He had five in a rotational role this past season.
I also know that coach McDermott loves the energy he brings to the D-line room and to the field.
It’s above my pay grade to assess what is fair market value for Lawson, so we will see how things play out in the coming months.
3 – From @MojoGravy: Since there are no big name WR free agents this year, do we draft high for that position? Or do we go all in on a stud OL and hope there’s some #1 WR talent in the lower rounds?
CB: If you follow Brandon Beane’s narrative I think it will provide you with a jumping off point for how the receiver position will be approached this offseason by the Bills.
Beane used the word “judicious” with respect to free agent spending. You’re right, the free agent pool at wide receiver is thin, though that could change if there are a few cap casualties.
With low supply and high demand, that will drive up the cost for the few receivers that fit the bill. When Beane says, “judicious,” I believe this means that they’re not going to get into bidding wars with other clubs. You already have to overpay to begin with in free agency. In a bidding war the numbers get foolish pretty quickly.
At the same time, Beane has said repeatedly that he will never draft for need, so to expect a high pick to be used on a receiver is misguided. That will only be a consideration if their value on a receiver matches to where they pick on the board. As Beane has said, drafting to fill a need only gets you in trouble.
So in my mind that leaves trading as an option. Now we can all speculate as much as we want about who the right fit would be. Again however, the approach to the cap applies here as well. They have to be “judicious” with the cap hit they would inherit should they choose to acquire a proven veteran talent at the position via trade.
4 – From @jimmywagz353: Chris, I've been saying for about 6 months now I think the bills would be smart to add 2 years to Jerry's deal. Do you view this as a possibility?
CB: A two-year extension could be a very palatable deal in terms of commitment for the Bills. Hughes is still producing at a high level. Playing at his best is very important to Hughes and that is demonstrated with his daily approach to practice and his craft as a pass rusher. He sets a very good example for the younger players in terms of work ethic. That counts for something in the eyes of the Bills brass.
Plus, he produced this past season. He led the team in sacks, tackles for loss, quarterback hits and forced fumbles.
It would be interesting to see what the Hughes camp would think of some kind of extension offer.
For Hughes, it’s probably a bird-in-the-hand versus two-in-the-bush kind of scenario.
If such an offer is presented to him by the Bills, and mind you we’re pretty far down the speculation road here, does he take a deal now, or does he bank on himself having a monster season in a contract year, so he can make presumably more money by boosting his value through production?
Could there be an extension offer for Hughes? I suppose it’s possible. I just think there are a lot of other items on Brandon Beane’s to-do list on the other side of the ball that have to be addressed first.
5 – From @alancolic: Do you foresee McDermott and Beane making a play for their former linebacker, Thomas Davis? Could make for an excellent role player, along with the leadership he could bring.
CB: As much as I respect Thomas Davis as a player, perhaps more for what he has overcome in his career in terms of injuries (2 ACLs, among others) there are a lot of miles on those tires. Davis will be 36 in March, and in my mind, a much older 36 than Lorenzo Alexander.
Alexander was largely a role player and special teamer for the first eight years of his career. He doesn’t have nearly as many miles on his body as Davis.
Naturally, there’s a Carolina connection with Davis and the front office. They have a strong working knowledge of Davis the person as well as the player.
The Bills also showed last offseason that they don’t mind signing players who are released prior to free agency (see: Chris Ivory, Vontae Davis).
Not to mention the fact that it’s widely considered in league circles to be a weak linebacker class in the draft.
So I don’t think Davis can be ruled out as an option. I think you just have to be careful with players in the twilight of their career. The contract has to make sense in terms of anticipated value knowing Davis at 36 may not be the same player he was when he was going to Pro Bowls (2015-2017).