Skip to main content


Five things we've learned about the Bills in free agency so far

Damien Harris, Buffalo Bills Free Agent signing, March 21, 2023 at One Bills Drive.
Damien Harris, Buffalo Bills Free Agent signing, March 21, 2023 at One Bills Drive.

1 – Offensive focus

By no means is free agency over, but coming out of the chute, GM Brandon Beane and his personnel department made offense a priority when it came to adding new players to the roster. Six of Buffalo's seven new free agent signees play on the offensive side of the ball.

A quarterback, running back, two wide receivers and a pair of offensive linemen were the six players added in free agency. Safety Zayne Anderson was the only defensive player signed that is new to the roster.

Buffalo is coming off a very successful offensive season in which they finished first in the league in third down conversion rate, second in total offense and second in the league in scoring. But with expiring contracts on the offensive line, backup quarterback, running back and receiver, additions had to be made.

"We did a lot of good things offensively in the totality of our season," said Beane. "People remember we were a little off down the stretch, but if you really added up a lot of things, we were still very good. We want to grow and get better."

2 – Play speed over timed speed

Buffalo's offense had a fair amount of speed at the skill positions this past season, but their newest additions may have upgraded that quotient even if it doesn't show on the stopwatch.

Deonte Harty clocked a 4.48 at his pro day, but his former New Orleans teammates will tell you he is much faster and GM Brandon Beane would agree.

"You just turn on the tape, you can feel speed and he's got it," said Beane. "He played against us a couple of years ago, Thanksgiving Day game. But he's got juice, you feel it. Some guys, they're fast off the line and then they kind of top out. They get to 12, 14, 15 yards and they're not (any faster). He's one of those guys that's still building up speed well past 14, 15 yards."

Trent Sherfield has 4.45 speed, but his play speed appears to be even better than that. Evidence came on his 75-yard touchdown against the number one ranked San Francisco defense this past season when he outran the back seven of the Niners defense to the end zone reaching over 20 miles per hour on the scoring play for Miami.

The Dolphins had eight total scoring plays that reached over 20 miles per hour. Sherfield was the only Dolphins player not named Tyreek Hill or Jaylen Waddle to have one.

And finally Damien Harris might not have great timed speed either at 4.57 but tell that to Buffalo's personnel department after watching him rip off a 64-yard touchdown run against their defense in 2021 where he left everyone in his rearview mirror.

"From a player's standpoint I'm a big physical guy, that's a little fast, that can make people miss sometimes. I like to be an all-around back that can do it all."

3 – Position versatility

Buffalo has made a habit of adding offensive linemen to their roster who can play more than one position. Jon Feliciano was a guard-center. Daryl Williams was a tackle-guard. David Quessenberry is a tackle-guard. And Ryan Bates and Ike Boettger are guard-centers.

The Bills expanded that search for position versatility at other positions. Receiver Deonte Harty is a player that Buffalo believes cannot only line up inside and outside, but he will also help in the return game. Trent Sherfield is a special teams coverage player, but told ‘One Bills Live’ he will line up in the slot in addition to the outside on offense.

And true to their free agent signing history, Connor McGovern has played guard and center.

"We see him at guard, but I'm sure if we needed him to move over (to center), he could," said Beane. "He also brings center versatility so he gives us another guy ... obviously we've got Mitch (Morse), (Ryan) Bates can do it and then now Connor can do it as well. You know we always preach as many guys that bring versatility, that's another piece with signing him." 

OL David Edwards has been a guard his entire pro career, but was a first-team All-American at right tackle for three years at the University of Wisconsin.

"I think guard is primarily where I'll be, but I told (offensive line) coach (Aaron) Kromer and other people in the building that I'm willing to play whatever position that best fits this team and this offense," Edwards said in an appearance ‘One Bills Live.’ "Ultimately the goal is to win a championship and however I can contribute to that is what I'll do."

4 – One-year deals abound

Another common practice in free agency since Brandon Beane has taken over as general manager is a heavy reliance on one-year contracts to add players in free agency. The club's limited cap space only reinforced the need to rely on one-year contracts to fill out the roster.

Half of Buffalo's new free agent signees inked one-year deals, which included QB Kyle Allen, OL David Edwards, RB Damien Harris, and WR Trent Sherfield.

The Bills took a similar approach in re-signing five of their own free agents to one-year contracts with OL Ike Boettger, LB Tyrel Dodson, CB Dane Jackson, DB Cam Lewis and LB Tyler Matakevich.

5 – Pulling from division foes

While adding the right players to improve your own roster is the main focus of any NFL general manager, if there is a secondary benefit then all the better.

With two of Buffalo signings, they not only added to their team's own talent pool, but subtracted talent from two of the AFC East rivals. The additions of RB Damien Harris and WR Trent Sherfield, subtracted talent from the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins.

In fact, a few of the receiver's now former teammates on the Dolphins roster were not happy to see Sherfield leave south Florida.

Even Sherfield himself was a bit surprised that he did not re-sign in Miami.

"I kind of went into (free agency) thinking that I was going to be back in Miami and for whatever reason that just didn't happen," said Sherfield. "But once that door kind of closed, I just kind of just started looking for different spots to be able to showcase my talents. A couple of teams were in the picture, but Buffalo came into the picture, and it was just like something that I just could not look past with obviously how the offense plays, and obviously (Ken) Dorsey and Josh Allen and everything."  

Miami's loss will be Buffalo's gain.

Check out the best photos from Buffalo Bills Free Agency 2023 as players sign their contracts, meet with the media and tour the Bills facility.

Related Content