Skip to main content

What They're Saying

Presented by

NFL analysts and Bills stars sound off on how the team should approach the offseason

Buffalo Bills vs Pittsburgh Steelers, Super Wild Card Weekend, January 15, 2024 at Highmark Stadium.
Buffalo Bills vs Pittsburgh Steelers, Super Wild Card Weekend, January 15, 2024 at Highmark Stadium.

With the Super Bowl this weekend and free agency just over a month away, the NFL offseason is rapidly approaching. For Buffalo, the offseason offers a unique challenge. As the Bills face a significant cap deficit, general manager Brandon Beane and his staff must find ways to be creative with contract restructures, target affordable but skilled players in free agency and, as Beane put it, "hit this draft."

As the Bills prepare for what is sure to be a busy offseason, here is what some of the NFL's top voices are saying about how Buffalo should prepare to bounce back in 2024.

The Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs connection has resulted in over 5,300 receiving yards and 37 touchdowns in the four seasons the two have spent with each other. Despite the media and fans often questioning their relationship, Allen had high praise for his friend and teammate on The Pat McAfee Show at the Super Bowl.

"We're just trying to be the best teammates that we can be for each other. I owe a lot of my success in my career to him and I think he would feel the same way about me. But I love that guy like a brother, always will, and we're going to do some big things next year."

In his first season in the NFL, rookie tight end Dalton Kincaid surpassed the expectations that come with being a first round pick. Kincaid accrued 73 receptions, setting franchise records for receptions by a tight end and a rookie.

Kincaid spoke to Matthew Berry at the Super Bowl in Las Vegas about the midseason change at offensive coordinator and how simplifying the offense helped the Bills get back on track after falling to 5-5 midway through the season.

"Joe's message was just to do simple better. So I think really just simplifying our game plan and just going in with what we felt really confident in, I think that was the biggest thing. Everyone had an idea of what we were doing going into it."

The Buffalo Bills have won at least one playoff game in each of the past four seasons but have yet to reach the Super Bowl. Bills left tackle Dion Dawkins, who was named a Pro Bowl starter this season, said that he is confident the Bills are still on the right path in achieving their ultimate goal.

"The longer it takes, the harder it's going to be, but I don't think that peak has closed yet. I think we have another shot, I think maybe we even have another two. When it comes down to it, we run behind #17 (Josh Allen) ... you gotta pull that weight, whether you're a young DB, a young LB, a rookie guard, a veteran offensive tackle."

The Buffalo Bills have made the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs in each of the past four postseasons and have made the playoffs in all but one of the seven seasons Sean McDermott has spent as head coach. Despite failing to make the AFC Championship since the 2020 Playoffs, Scott Piolo believes that the fixes the Bills must make in the offseason are miniature compared to the work they have put in to get to this point: drafting one of the best quarterbacks in the league and building consistency under McDermott.

"The last couple years we've heard this narrative that starts out there, and truthfully, that they're just one player away, they're right there, they're gonna do it. And what happens with narratives like that is that it doesn't manage expectations. It doesn't manage external expectations and it doesn't manage internal expectations. They have the right players; they have the right quarterback and head coach. They need to infuse some players, don't be overly impulsive over what just happened. … Not making excuses, the reality is they had some important players hurt, particularly on defense, and those things are real."

Three-time Super Bowl champion Steve Young argued that Allen needs more weapons at his disposal on offense as to limit the situations the quarterback has to "be Superman." Allen scrambled at a much higher rate later as the season progressed, putting his body on the line as each game became more important. He had two of his three most productive games as a runner in the playoffs, often scrambling for extra yards when a passing play broke down.

"Even when you're Superman, Superman needs help. And you need enough help to go get it done. And I've said for the last three years, they have a good team but he needs more help because they ask him to be Superman too much. … Things get crazy and then he puts the cape on before the plays even finished. … And you cannot keep it up, you cannot make enough plays. You need to be able to call the play in the huddle and have a running game."

With a cap deficit that ranks at the top of the NFL, the Bills will have to work hard in the offseason to utilize their talented, but generally more expensive, veteran players, and find young talent in the 2024 NFL Draft that can make an immediate impact in all three phases. Bucky Brooks said that the Bills will need to focus on finding young playmakers who can quickly adapt to playing at the next level.

"Now you have to build the team differently. What we're seeing is they will have to kind of change the way they go about doing it. More younger, cheaper players on defense, more younger, cheaper players in prominent roles. And maybe a bigger workload for Josh Allen. We wanted to get away from the Josh Allen Experience, we didn't want to see the one man show, but when you have some of the young players around him, you may have to see No. 17 put the cape back on."

After starting the first six games of the season with five games with 100 or more receiving yards, Stefon Diggs' production fell off in the second half of the season. Diggs was still an important part of the Buffalo offense, but as defenses evolved in their coverages against the four-time Pro Bowler, Allen had to rely on younger pieces of the Buffalo offense, such as Khalil Shakir and Dalton Kincaid.

With wide receiver Gabe Davis set to enter free agency, NFL analyst Greg Cosell thinks the Bills could be in need of a No. 2 wide receiver to work behind Diggs.

They certainly don't have a field stretcher. When you have Josh Allen, you need to invest in your receiving core, you need receivers. We know Kincaid, he's going to be a good player. I think Shakir is going to be a really good number three type, he's going to be really good for what he is. But I think they need an alpha dog and they need speed, because this offense is hamstrung in the passing game by what they're lacking.

The Bills have consistently been one of the most high-octane teams in the NFL since 2020, ranking in the top six in points per game in each of the past four seasons. The Ringer's Sheil Kapadia thinks that the Bills are emblematic of just how difficult it is to put together a Super Bowl run, and that they are moving in the right direction under Sean McDermott and Josh Allen.

The Buffalo Bills are not broken. They don't need to fire the whole coaching staff. This isn't about Josh Allen isn't able to win the big game. This is a team that over the last two years has lost one game by more than seven points. … This team has gotten stung by bad luck, by randomness, by miscues – listen there are miscues in high leverage situations – but these are not things that require a big blow up. I think it's good to look at NFL history if you're a Bills fan and you're feeling down. Peyton Manning played eight seasons before the man got to a Super Bowl. … Aaron Rodgers played 18 seasons with the Packers and got to the Super Bowl one time. It is very hard, the stars need to align.

In addition to the Bills' need at wide receiver, with only five defensive linemen (Ed Oliver, Greg Rousseau, Kingsley Jonathan, Von Miller and Kameron Cline) under contract for next season, the Bills will need to sign multiple DTs and DEs over the offseason. With safeties Micah Hyde, Jordan Poyer and Cam Lewis entering free agency and Jordan Poyer entering his 13th season in the NFL, the Bills will also likely invest draft capital and/or free agency money at the safety position.

The Athletic's Joe Buscaglia explained why each position was vital for the Bills to pursue over the offseason.

On wide receiver: "Between Davis becoming a free agent in March and already declaring he's going to free agency, Diggs turning 31 in 2024 and the 2024 NFL Draft being stocked with excellent receiver talent, the position should remain near the top of their draft needs."

On defensive end: "There will be a clear path to playing time due to all of the expected roster turnover over the next two offseasons. There is also an added emphasis to take a defensive end early this year, as Rousseau is due a huge pay increase — either in the form of his fifth-year option or a long-term extension — in 2025."

On defensive tackle: "Much like the defensive end position, expiring contracts leave the Bills bare at defensive tackle. … It may be time for the Bills to select one on a cost-controlled four-year contract. Fortunately for the Bills, one-technique defensive tackles usually aren't used with premium picks, so they could find one who fits their scheme on Day 2 or early Day 3."

On safety: "This need is probably a year or two late, as it likely would have been better to draft a safety and let them learn behind Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer rather than drafting one and forcing him into the lineup their rookie season. But that might wind up being their fate with their cap being structured the way it is and without a starting option other than Poyer signed for 2024."

With a clear need at receiver, especially if upcoming free agent Gabe Davis does not return in 2024, the Bills will likely take to both the NFL Draft and free agency in search of depth at the position.

Despite having limited cap space, CBS Sports' Chris Trapasso thinks that the Bills have plenty of feasible options in free agency at the position, listing K.J. Osborn, Kendrick Bourne, Olamide Zaccheaus and Noah Brown as potential signings in addition to his top choice from the free agent class: four-year veteran Laviska Shenault.

"Beyond probably drafting a wide receiver in the first or the second round, I think that they will be able to check that bargain bin for some free agent wide receivers and there are some good ones out there. … Laviska Shenault is my number one guy in terms of realistic – he is so good after the catch."

The Bills have plenty of work in the offseason to put a winning combination of players on the field next season, but can do so in a number of ways.

The Athletic's Joe Buscaglia proposed a 15-step plan for the Bills to get under the cap while keeping certain stars on their roster. Starting with a restructure of Josh Allen's contract, Buscaglia's plan ends with the Bills attaining between $10-$20 million in cap space, pushing forward $32 million to 2025.

Check out the top photos of RB James Cook, LT Dion Dawkins and WR Stefon Diggs during Sunday's 2024 NFL Pro Bowl Games featuring a flag football game of the AFC vs. NFC.

Related Content