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NFL analysts offer these grades on Buffalo's 2021 free agency moves


Buffalo Bills Notable moves:

  • Re-signed LB Matt Milano (4 years, $44M)
  • Re-signed OT Daryl Williams (3 years, $28M)
  • Re-signed OG Jon Feliciano (3 years)
  • Agreed to deal with Saints WR Emmanuel Sanders (1 year)

They paid a premium for Milano and, to a lesser extent, Williams. But both vets have played integral roles when healthy. Retaining Feliciano also ensures that Josh Allen's supporting cast is of the utmost importance.

Grade: B+

Buffalo Bills

Key Additions: TE Jacob Hollister, WR Emmanuel Sanders, QB Mitch Trubisky

Key Departures: WR John Brown, DT Quinton Jefferson, TE Tyler Kroft, WR/KR Andre Roberts

_Grade: B+ _

The Bills' best moves didn't make big headlines. Extending in-house starters like linebacker Matt Milano and offensive linemen Daryl Williams and Jon Feliciano should help the Bills remain atop the AFC East standings. Sanders brings more to the table than the oft-injured Brown. And Trubisky instantly goes from one of the NFL's worst starters to one of its best backups.

The Bills' one-year deal with Mitchell Trubisky

The Bills are signing Mitchell Trubisky to a one-year deal ....

Over the past three seasons, 44 quarterbacks have totaled at least 500 pass plays. Among that group, Trubisky ranks 26th in Expected Points Added (EPA) per play, according to TruMedia's model. In other words, he hasn't been great, but Trubisky hasn't been a complete train wreck, either. He's basically been slightly below average. And that's great for your backup. Right now, the Bills make more "that makes sense" moves than any team in the NFL. They brought back Matt Milano, Daryl Williams and Jon Feliciano on reasonable deals. They added Emmanuel Sanders as part of their wide receiver rotation. And now they get Trubisky as a high-level backup should Josh Allen suffer an injury. ….

The Bills haven't stolen as many headlines as the Patriots this offseason, but they've done a terrific job over the last week and remain the team to beat in the AFC East

Grade: A

The Bills' one-year deal with Emmanuel Sanders

The Bills are signing Emmanuel Sanders to a one-year deal ...

Sanders spent last season with the Saints and was productive with 61 catches for 726 yards and five touchdowns. The Bills have Stefon Diggs at one starting spot and Cole Beasley in the slot. They released John Brown, but Gabriel Davis had a nice rookie season with 35 catches for 599 yards and seven touchdowns. Sanders can either start or share snaps with Davis. And he offers insurance should the Bills suffer an injury.

Given the cost and only the one-year commitment, this is a fine signing.

Grade: B

The Bills' three-year deal with Jon Feliciano

The Bills are bringing back guard Jon Feliciano on a three-year contract. …

Buffalo finished fifth in offensive efficiency last year and will now return all five starters from its 2020 offensive line. No team has been more active during the buildup to the new league year than the Bills, and all of the team's moves make sense. Feliciano has 33 starts in six seasons and has played guard and center. His best attributes are his competitiveness, leadership and toughness. Feliciano is not a high-ceiling player, and he gets overmatched at times in pass protection. But he's a starting-caliber guard, and the Bills are not breaking the bank to keep him. Among the 15 players who played at least 300 snaps on offense for the Bills last year, 13 are in line to return. The only exceptions are guard Brian Winters and wide receiver John Brown.

With Feliciano, Daryl Williams and Matt Milano back, the Bills are rewarding their own players without overpaying. Buffalo has emerged as one of the most sensible front offices in the NFL.

Grade: B

Take a look at the Bills newest free agent signings arrival to Buffalo, presented by Imagine Staffing.


Grade:Very Good

Williams doesn't have an extensive track record of success, but he has been a quality starting option at right tackle in each of his past two full seasons at the position. He ranked third among all qualifying right tackles in PFF grade back in 2017. That season was followed up by an early injury in the 2018 season and a down year across time at four different positions along the offensive line in 2019. Those two campaigns opened the door for the Bills to take a chance on him with a cheap, one-year deal last offseason. The result was a career-high 79.2 PFF grade from Williams as the team's starting right tackle in 2020.



The Bills will keep their linebacker duo of Tremaine Edmunds and Milano in place for at least one more season with this extension. Buffalo covets Milano for clear reasons. He's developed into one of the better coverage linebackers in the NFL, ranking 11th among all qualifiers at the position in coverage grade over the past three seasons. The question moving forward will be what this means for Edmunds as he nears the end of his rookie deal. The Bills will have to decide whether to pick up his fifth-year option in the coming  ....


Grade:Above Average

On the eve of his 34th birthday, Sanders agreed to a one-year deal to join his fifth NFL team. He will step in for the released John Brown to join a strong receiving corps that already has Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley and Gabriel Davis in place.

Sanders may be on the downswing of his career, but he can still certainly provide value in a complementary role. He posted 726 receiving yards and five touchdowns to go along with a 74.4 PFF grade in 2020 with the Saints despite missing some time. He has now recorded an overall grade of at least 68.0 in all 11 of his NFL seasons. Sanders gets to join a team with championship aspirations, while Buffalo adds another proven, veteran threat who gives their receiving corps some insurance in the case of injury. It's a deal that makes sense for both sides.


Grade:Above Average

… As NFL Network's Michael Giardi reported, general manager Brandon Beane views this as a reset for Trubisky. Things didn't pan out for him in Chicago, but he is a former top-three pick with four years of starting experience, and he profiles as one of the better backup quarterbacks in the league. Buffalo can take some solace in being able to put a four-year starter out there with some mobility should Allen go down with an injury for a stretch.

Matt Milano, LB, Buffalo Bills

The deal:Four years _Grade:**A-_**

The Bills didn't get any kind of major bargain here -- Milano did well for a linebacker who didn't test the market. But they get to keep an important part of their defense without completely breaking the bank to do it.

Milano essentially got a tick more in average salary and guarantees ($20 million fully guaranteed at signing and paid in the first two years) than Blake Martinez did last year when he signed as a free agent with the New York Giants. So, it seems like the two sides looked at that deal, added a bit for inflation and called it a day. Buffalo is trying to keep together a roster it thinks is good enough to win the Super Bowl, and it had some concern about losing Milano to the free-agent market. Keeping him from even getting there is a win. – Graziano

Daryl Williams, OT, Buffalo Bills

The deal:Three years _Grade:**A_**

This is a home run for the Bills .... There were market watchers who believed Williams would do well if he got to free agency and wonder why he took this deal with Buffalo, and it speaks to how well things are going in Buffalo that players would want to stay there rather than find out what they're worth on the open market.

… This is a big win for the Bills as they try to keep their excellent roster together for another deep playoff run. – Graziano

Buffalo Bills Sign QB Mitchell Trubisky

Terms: One year

Source: ESPN's Adam Schefter

Mitchell Trubisky has been the subject of a lot of derision the last few years. But a ridiculed starting quarterback often makes a top-flight backup quarterback, and that's exactly what Trubisky becomes on the Buffalo Bills roster. The Bills shouldn't be under any delusions that Trubisky can carry the team on another deep playoff run in the event something happens to 2020 MVP runner-up Josh Allen, but he is absolutely talented enough to keep them afloat for a multi-week stretch if Allen goes down.

We've seen the 2017 No. 2 overall pick excel for short spurts on several occasions thus far in his career (most recently when he posted a 108.5 passer rating as the Bears averaged 35.0 points per game in December). As long as we're not looking at eight figures here, this is a smart insurance policy for the Bills.

Grade: A

Buffalo Bills Sign TE Jacob Hollister

Terms:One year, amount undisclosed

Source:Tom Pelissero of

There's been more than a little speculation that the TE-needy Bills could make a play for Zach Ertz of the Philadelphia Eagles, but Ertz wasn't the tight end the team acquired Friday. In four NFL seasons with the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks, Jacob Hollister has never been more than a role player. His best season came in 2019 when he hauled in 41 of 59 targets for 349 yards and three touchdowns. But in 2016, Hollister caught seven scoring passes at the University of Wyoming—from Bills quarterback Josh Allen.

It is far from a sure thing that Hollister blossoms into the No. 1 tight end the Bills have sought for several years. But he has shown enough when targeted to merit a "prove it" deal in the hopes that playing with a familiar face will provide a boost.


With free agency open for the 2021 season, scroll through to keep track of Buffalo's newest signings. Presented by Imagine Staffing.