NFL analysts offer these grades and reactions for Buffalo's 2020 free agency moves

DE Mario Addison (top left), LB A.J. Klein (top right), DT Quinton Jefferson (bottom left) and WR Stefon Diggs (bottom right).
DE Mario Addison (top left), LB A.J. Klein (top right), DT Quinton Jefferson (bottom left) and WR Stefon Diggs (bottom right).

General manager Brandon Beane started working on his 2020 roster early with the addition of former Carolina Panther Josh Norman last week. The Bills then made a splash to kickoff free agency by trading for wide receiver Stefon Diggs. They continued to make their presence known with additions of defensive players like defensive end Mario Addison and defensive tackles Vernon Butler and Quinton Jefferson to help bolster their third-ranked defense from 2019.

Here's a look at what several analysts had to say about Buffalo's moves in free agency so far.

1. Brian Baldinger thinks Buffalo is winning free agency

NFL analyst Brian Baldinger believes general manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott will see the benefits of their moves the last two years come together with this year's acquisitions to create a team that will be hard to stop in 2020.

"The Buffalo Bills got themselves a No. 1 wide receiver," Baldinger said via a post on Radio.com. "I think that's huge for the development of Josh Allen to go with John Brown and everybody else they have added to that team over the last two years. I think sometimes we look at players that got signed and got a boatload of money but sometimes you have to look at teams that have done a lot with what they have right now and I think that's a big part of it too."

2. Michael Irvin says Buffalo is on top after reported additions

NFL analyst Michael Irvin said the first thing he thought of when Buffalo added Stefon Diggs was that the Bills are now the main candidate to win their division.

"That's the first thing I thought about," Irvin explained. "Buffalo, with the way they played New England last year, the moves that they have made, they were right there. Now no Tom Brady in that situation. I say that puts Buffalo right on top."

3. NFL Network analysts think Bills are favorite to win the AFC East

NFL Network analysts believe the new reported faces on Buffalo's roster along with the departure of Tom Brady from the AFC East gives the Bills an opportunity that they haven't had in several years.

"Yeah, it is the Bills' division to lose, said Mike Silver. "First of all, everyone in the division outside of New England is finally experiencing this incredible clearly of skies and at least the hope that has not been there for a long, long time exists... But if you're a Bills fan, you're remembering that that team went down to Houston and put it on the Texans for a large portion of that playoff game. The Texans came back, it went to overtime. Great finish. Deshaun Watson doing something unfathomable to give the Texans the win in overtime, but that was a big moment for the Bills. And I think they're getting better. Not just because their young quarterback Josh Allen has so much moxie and will continue to grow, but because Brandon Beane, the general manager, Sean McDermott, the coach, they're not only creating a place that players really like to be, but they're bringing in better players. And the Stefon Diggs trade obviously (is) the big headline so far."

NFL Network analyst Steve Wyche says the reported Diggs trade was huge, but it's important to not overlook the other reported signings the Bills have made in free agency.

"I think the Bills have done some fantastic things," Wyche explained. "They made some great strides last year. And we're talking about the Stefon Diggs trade, that's the big headline maker, but a quiet signing that they made is the signing of defensive end Mario Addison who comes from the Carolina Panthers and, of course, is familiar with Sean McDermott. This guy has had 39 sacks in the past four years. He's a heck of a player. He's going to have fun chasing Jarrett Stidham or Ryan Fitzpatrick or Sam Darnold."

4. USA Today says Buffalo has made solid moves so far in free agency

Touchdown Wire’s Mark Schofield lists Buffalo as a winner for the team's moves through the first wave of free agency.

Getting a downfield threat in Diggs, who had a career-high 1,130 yards receiving and an impressive 17.9 yards per reception a season ago will go a long way towards helping Allen in the vertical passing game. Diggs saw 29 targets of over 20 yards last season, catching 16 of those for 635 yards and six touchdowns. Those 29 deep passing targets tied Diggs for the third-most in the league. Additionally, Diggs just signed a contract extension last off-season and is signed through the 2023 campaign.

That alone makes the Bills winners, but they also added on the defensive side of the football with outside linebacker Mario Addison, defensive tackle Vernon Butler, defensive end Quinton Jefferson, and inside linebacker Tyler Matakevich. Plus, they retained free safety Jordan Poyer, a critical component on the back of their defense. All very solid moves for Buffalo.

5. Bleacher Report weighs in on what team upgraded the most at WR

Bleacher Report writers shared their opinions on whether the Bills or Texans will benefit more from their newest reported wide receiver additions. Out of six writers the decision was split, three believe Diggs will be better for Buffalo and three think DeAndre Hopkins will do more for Arizona.

Mike Tanier: Buffalo Bills

But the Diggs acquisition, coupled with the you-know-who news in Foxborough, makes the Bills the favorites to win their division at the moment.

Brent Sobleski: Buffalo Bills

The Bills should now be considered the favorites to win the AFC East. Diggs adds to any already burgeoning squad as a true No. 1 target for Allen.

Gary Davenport: Buffalo Bills

The Bills were a playoff team last year and may now be a Super Bowl contender. The Cardinals are maybe the third-best team in their own division. I'll go with Diggs.

6. Yahoo Sports says it's Buffalo's time to win now

Frank Schwab from Yahoo Sports also calls the Bills a winner from their reported free agent signings so far. Schwab writes Buffalo has been aggressive during this time because they understand the opportunity they have in 2020, an opportunity to break a streak.

Buffalo Bills: If the Bills are going to break the Patriots' streak of AFC East titles, now is the time.

The Patriots won't have Tom Brady at quarterback, and we don't know who their next quarterback will be. While New England could end up figuring out a great solution, the Patriots are entering a brand new era and we don't know how it will look.

The Bills seem to realize what's at stake and have been aggressive. They filled their biggest need with a huge trade for Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs. Other additions have been good for the overall depth of the roster: defensive linemen Mario Addison, Vernon Butler and Quinton Jefferson, cornerback Josh Norman and linebacker A.J. Klein.

7. ESPN thinks Bills roster improvements can equate to more wins

ESPN writer Kevin Seifert sees the success of Bills free agent additions from last season possibly playing an impact on the new players heading to Buffalo this season. In 2019, the Bills focused on upgrading their offensive line. This season it's about helping Allen and anchoring the defensive line.

Sometimes, heavy forays into free agency actually work. There was almost universal agreement that the Bills' 2019 spree played a significant role in clinching a wild-card spot. And after their efforts this week, the Bills might have made themselves the favorites in the new-look AFC East.

The big-ticket acquisition, of course, was landing Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs via a trade. But the Bills made plenty of other important and thoughtful moves. First, they made sure to prevent a backslide from their otherwise improved offensive line in re-signing guard Quinton Spain. Then they went hard at upgrading a defensive line already anchored by defensive tackle Ed Oliver by signing veterans Quinton Jefferson and Vernon Butler. And it's likely that coach Sean McDermott will have a better idea of how to use new Buffalo cornerback Josh Norman, dating to their time together with the Panthers.

8. Bills progress in free agency garners good grade from SB Nation

SB Nation graded every major NFL deal on a short-term and long-term basis from this year's free agency. Buffalo received high grades.

Bills sign: DL Quinton Jefferson

Jefferson has the ability to play inside or outside, and the Bills will probably use him everywhere. With Jordan Phillips gone, Jefferson can come in and immediately fill his role on Buffalo's line. He's also better at getting the quarterback than Phillips is, so this is an upgrade for the Bills.

Short-term grade: B+ _Long-term grade: _B+

Vikings trade: WR Stefon Diggs, 2020 7th-round pick

Bills trade: 2020 1st-, 5th-, and 6th-round picks, 2021 4th-round pick

Diggs has been unhappy in Minnesota for a long time, and it was only a matter of time before he was traded. The Bills just got Josh Allen some serious firepower on offense with the 26-year-old Diggs, and the Vikings got a first-round pick. The compensation is heavy — much more than the Texans managed for DeAndre Hopkins. It's hard to give a team a good grade when they part with such a talented player, but if the two were headed for divorce anyway, you can't do much better than the package of picks the Vikings got in return.

Short-term grade: Vikings D, Bills A

Long-term grade: Vikings B-, Bills B

Bills re-sign: LG Quinton Spain

Spain signed a one-year "prove it" deal last season and he delivered. He was solid in protection in Buffalo's rapidly changing offense with Josh Allen under center. ... This is a smart deal for a good player.

Short-term grade: B+

Long-term grade: B+

11. Panthers play-by-play voice says former Panthers players will have impact on Bills roster

Carolina Panthers play-by-play voice Mick Mixon joined WGR to discuss the four former Panthers players that have been reportedly acquired in free agency and how they can make a difference with Buffalo. All four are on the defensive side — Josh Norman, Mario Addison, Vernon Butler and A.J. Klein. Mixon thinks Mario Addison will fit into the culture general manager Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott have built.

"I promise you this, Sean McDermott is going to get whatever Super Mario has left to give and it could be a substantial amount of productive football," Mixon explained. "He has been known for this get-off, this burst off the edge. He's a fantastic guy, tremendously active in the community. He will be a positive force in the locker room in the most unnoticeable kind of way, he will just fit in."

Mixon also said Addison has grown his game into becoming more than just a third down defensive end.

"The other thing you're going to get is not just a player who's third-and-medium, third-and-long," Mixon added. "Early in his career he had that kind of tag as more of a one-dimensional, more of a whirling dervish coming off the corner and pressuring the pocket on passing situations. He has worked hard to set a hard edge, to support the run, to be a good tackler and a first and second down force."

Defensive tackle Vernon Butler and McDermott will pair together perfectly.

"He's an exquisitely talented athlete," Mixon said. "I think the marriage of Vernon Butler and the Buffalo Bills coaching staff, if there's any way just to get the best out of this very talented athlete, I know Sean and company will just squeeze every great play that's possible out of Vernon Butler."

10. Former Browns general manager says Josh Norman fits the Bills

Former Browns general manager Mike Lombardi joined One Bills Live this week to talk about free agency surrounding the NFL. Lombardi thinks Josh Norman will work with the type of defense Buffalo plays.

"He fits their scheme," Lombardi explained. "He's not a man-to-man coverage guy but he does fit what they want to do."

11. Saints color analyst thinks Bills have an outstanding person in A.J. Klein

Saints radio color analyst Deuce McAllister appeared on WGR this week to share his thoughts on one of the newest reported Bills, linebacker A.J. Klein. McAllister says Klein will be one of the smartest players in the linebacker room.

"Buffalo's getting an outstanding person," Klein said. "His read and reaction time, I haven't looked at the overall roster in Buffalo but as far as linebackers are concerned he's going to be one of the first guys."

McAllister explained one of Klein's strengths is run defense. The linebacker excels at recognizing formations and reacting to them, often times making many tackles at or behind the line of scrimmage.

"You're getting a heck of a player," McAllister said. "He's a guy that can play really all three positions as far as linebackers are concerned. He can play the mike, he can play the sam and the will as far as coverages are concerned. I'll be interested to see where he and coach McDermott decide where is the best fit for him on defense."

12. Quinton Jefferson stats prove he can help on defensive line

With former Bills defensive lineman Jordan Phillips no longer in Buffalo, defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson can fill a hole on the line. Jefferson put up team-high numbers with the Seahawks the last two seasons per Next Gen Stats.

The Bills add a premier interior pass rusher with the signing of Quinton Jefferson to a 2-year deal. Jefferson led the Seahawks in QB pressure rate among interior DL in each of the last two seasons (2018: 8.5% | 2019: 9.6%)

Joe Marino from The Draft Network points out pass rush stats that show he can work in tandem with Ed Oliver.

Quinton Jefferson had more pressures on the QB (39) in 401 pass rush snaps last year than Jordan Phillips had (38) in 548 pass rush snaps over the last two seasons combined per PFF.

Jefferson is also a superior run defender.

Upgrade at backup 3-Tech behind Ed Oliver.

Scroll through to view the latest updates on Buffalo's reported additions to the roster through free agency.

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